CANTON, Ga. — A 20-year-old maintenance man faces life in prison for beating and killing a 7-year-old north Georgia girl, who disappeared from a playground at her apartment complex and was found in a trash bin.
Ryan Brunn pleaded guilty Tuesday to several charges including murder and child molestation in the Dec. 2 killing of Jorelys Rivera (JOR'-ih-lees ruh-VIR'-uh). He responded "Yes, sir," when a judge asked if he was pleading guilty to several charges. The judge accepted his plea and sentenced him to life without parole.
"I'd like to apologize for everything that's done. Lo Siento," Brunn said, apologizing in Spanish as he took the stand briefly a second time.
Brunn said he chose the girl because he happened to find her roller skate and used it to lure her to a vacant apartment, where he killed her, he told the judge.
He said he first sexually assaulted her.
"I didn't want her to go home and tell her mom or dad on me. So I cut her," he told the Cherokee County judge.
He bound her arms with plastic ties in the bathtub and then taped her face before cutting her with a razor he uses to slice carpet, he said. When she didn't die immediately, he hit her about five times with a "hammer-like object" and stabbed her in the chest. He stuffed her body in a garbage bag and threw it into a trash compactor, he said.
Brunn spoke softly and candidly to the judge as members of Rivera's family sat in the front row sobbing.
A statement from the girl's mother, Joselinne Rivera, was read in court.
"The rest of my life I am going to feel terrible and destroyed because of the harm you did to my daughter," Rivera said in the statement. "I desire this man the worst possible of the world, and that they do to him the worst so he suffers."
Brunn's defense attorney David Cannon addressed reporters after the sentencing.
"He was remorseful. A child's life was lost and he was sentenced. And that's the bottom line ladies and gentlemen. It's over," Cannon said.
Authorities found the child's body three days after her mother reported her missing from the Canton apartment complex. After getting rid of the body, Brunn said he returned to his apartment and then went out with friends to Walmart before returning home to smoke pot and meth.
Two days after the killing, Brunn began "freaking out" and wrote a note on the back of a McDonald's receipt saying the girl's body was in the trash compactor and taped it to the bin, he told the judge. When the judge asked why he did that, he responded, "I was high."
Police say Brunn snatched the girl as she walked from the playground to her apartment to get sodas for her friends.
Brunn was being held without bond at the Cherokee County jail. His family has said he is innocent. The charges carried the possibility of a death sentence if convicted, but prosecutors had not decided yet whether to seek it.
Brunn has no known criminal past and he cleared background checks by the company that runs the apartment complex where he had been working about a month. Authorities say Brunn had keys to the apartment and the trash compactor bin where Rivera's body was left.
"We're very glad this is over for us, and especially the family," said Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance after the sentencing.