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Michigan Court of Appeals overturns convictions, orders new trial for man in 2013 murders

Posted: 4:33 PM, Aug 25, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-25 16:34:19-04

The Michigan Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for the man convicted of killing two employees of Family Dollar in Dearborn in 2013. Lavere Bryant was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Brenna Machus and Joseph Orlando.

The three judge panel cited issues during the trial in making their decision, which was released on Tuesday. Testimony of Bryant's past convictions and imprisonment were mentioned in the nine page ruling. In addition, details of sexual harassment of co-workers at Family Dollar by Bryant before his employment was terminated as also considered prejudicial by the judges. They also objected to the jury hearing testimony that pornography had been discovered on Bryant's cell phone.

Brenna Machus was 20 years old at the time of her murder. She was assistant manager of Family Dollar in Dearborn. Her co-worker, Joseph Orlando, was also 20. His body was found inside a back bathroom in the store. He had been shot in the head, execution style. Machus' body was found several days later in a wooded area near the Southfield Freeway and Michigan Avenue. She had been sexually assaulted and also shot.

Lavere Bryant was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and other charges including armed robbery of the store. He received two life sentences without parole for the murder convictions. 

"It's going be like she just died again," said Jamie Machus, the father of the murdered woman. "It's going to dig all this back up and we buried her once. We don't want to have to bury her again and that's what it's going to seem like." 

In response to the decision, the Wayne County prosecutor's office told Action News it would seek leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Bryant will remain incarcerated.

Machus hopes his family will be spared the pain of another trial.

"I'm so disappointed in the legal system," Machus said. "How supposedly a technicality is overturning his verdict, I mean that to me is ridiculous. 

Machus is convinced Bryant murdered his daughter and her co-worker and he believes the court is disrespecting them with decision to overturn the convictions. 

"I have no doubt," said Machus. "I watched all the videos, I was at every court date and I have no doubt, no doubt in my mind. 100%."