By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The man accused of killing two Family Dollar store employees in July will stand trial for their deaths.
Lavere Bryant, 34, was bound over for trial in Wayne County Circuit Court by 19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey Oct. 4. Bryant was remanded to the Wayne County Jail following the preliminary examination of the evidence against him.
Bryant is accused of fatally shooting Joseph Orlando and Brenna Kathleen Machus, both 20 years old and employees of the Family Dollar at 22631 Michigan Ave.
Orlando’s body was found inside the store on July 16 by police, who were called to the store by an employee who had found it in disarray. Machus’ body was discovered on July 18 in a wooded area just south of Michigan Avenue and near the Southfield Freeway.
During the preliminary exam, Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark submitted 35 items into evidence and called eight witnesses to testify, including an expert in forensic biology from the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, the manager of the Family Dollar store where the victims worked and an employee of Flagstar Bank who testified she had been able to observe Bryant when he used the bank over the previous two years.
Police Sgt. Thomas Lance, who specializes in retrieving and analyzing surveillance footage from crime scenes, also was called as a witness and showed Salamey footage from the four cameras inside the store.
One of the cameras is positioned to record the entrance to the store and it showed the suspect entering alone at 7:26 p.m. and walking to the right. This snipet of footage was released by the Police Department two days after Orlando’s body was found to see if anyone in the community could recognize him.
Two other pieces of footage from that camera also were presented in court. In the first, at 7:56 p.m., Machus is seen leaving the store with the suspect. In the second, the suspect returned to the store alone after 5 a.m. on July 16 and walked to the left out of the scope of the lens. He returns to the door a few minutes later and the security tower next to the exit blinks as he walks through.
What item was taken that set off the alarm was not divulged at the examination.
Of the three other cameras, footage from only one in the storeroom was shown in court. In the footage, Machus and the suspect are seen briefly in the storeroom walking before moving out of the picture.
After the witness testimony finished, Salamey concluded that he felt that there was sufficient evidence provided the case to go to the circuit court.
Bryant is charged with eight felonies including two counts each of first degree murder and felony murder (one count for each victim), armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, felon in possession of a firearm, felony firearm and being a habitual offender. Each of the four murder charges carry a penalty of life in imprison without parole.
Bryant is required to register as a sex offender due to a 1999 conviction for home invasion and second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The home invasion charge was dismissed, but Bryant was given five years of probation and sentenced to one year of confinement in the Michigan Department of Corrections for the criminal sexual conduct.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])