"I was glad to see that we'll be going to court again," Jamie Machus said.
Prosecutors called eight witnesses to the stand to provide testimony against Lavere Douglas-Lee Bryant, 34, of Dearborn, in the 19th District Court. Bryant is facing eight felony charges stemming from the July 15 murder of Joseph Orlando and the abduction and murder of coworker Brenna Machus from the Family Dollar store at 22631 Newman St.
Testimony came from multiple sources, including two Family Dollar employees, police forensics investigators and Bryant's fiancé, Astrin Chandler.
Erica Collins, who works at the Dearborn Family Dollar, testified that when she came to open the store on the morning on July 16, she saw Machus’ and Orlando’s vehicles in the parking lot.
“It was very unusual,” she said.
Collins testified that the store was locked from the inside and that she could not see in the store's windows due to condensation from the air conditioner running. When she went inside, she said, she saw Orlando’s cell phone on the floor, and that's when she decided to call police.
“I knew something was wrong,” said.
Later, she said, police brought her back into the store, where she identified Orlando, whose body had been placed in a body bag on a stretcher near the public restroom. Collins testified that $1,000 in petty cash had been taken from the store's safe.
Dearborn Police Officer Cyndi Maxell, who works in the department’s crime lab, testified that bullet casings, a 100-foot clothes line, and a towel covering Orlando's body was found in the bathroom.
Andrea Young, a Michigan State Police crime lab technician, testified that Orlando was killed from multiple gunshots to the head.Young also said Machus was killed from a gunshot wound to the head. Her body was discovered three days later in a field near the Michigan Avenue exit on Southfield Freeway.
Fiancé says Bryant is innocentDuring Friday's hearing, Robert Kinney, a court-appointed defense attorney for Bryant, tried several times to discredit the prosecution's witnesses by poking holes in their testimony.
Kinney questioned whether Sally Jenkins, an employee at Flagstar Bank in Dearborn, could adequately identify Bryant in a five second video surveillance clip released to the public.
Jenkins testified that she recognized Bryant, who was a regular customer at the bank, based on the type of hand wave he is seen making upon entering the Family Dollar store. She also said Bryant wears the same style shoes and clothes as the man in the video.
Jenkins said she's never known Bryant without a beard, which Kinney pointed out could not be viewed from the surveillance tapes.
At one point, Bryant's brother David Rowe took the stand and told Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark that his taped testimony implicating Bryant for purchasing a gun that matches the murder weapon used in the homicides was coerced by police.
"I lied because (the police) were trying to throw me in the cage," Rowe said. "I was scared and I was told if I gave them anything, I could leave."
Astrin Chandler, Bryant's fiancé, also recanted her previously recorded statement. Chandler testified that she never told police that the man wearing a hooded sweatshirt in the surveillance video from the store resembled Bryant.
After the hearing, Chief Judge Sam Salamey ruled that there was indeed enough evidence for Bryant to stand trial. He was bound over to the Third Circuit Court at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit and will face an arraignment hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 11. Bryant will remain in custody at the Wayne County Jail.