Though he was on suicide watch during his stay in the Cherokee County Jail, he was not monitored during his stay at the Jackson State Prison. A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Corrections explains: “He was interviewed by mental health staff on Wednesday and was not placed on suicide watch based on the counselor’s findings. He was placed in a segregation cell by himself for his safety.”
Other than the bruises on his neck, “The medical examiner found no other significant trauma on Brunn’s body,” said the GBI. The autopsy confirmed suicide.
“There’s really nobody to blame here,” said Brunn’s attorney Daran Burns. “This is all on Ryan Brunn.”
In a trial whose speed and completeness surprised both the defense and the prosecutors, Brunn confessed guilty to all charges, including charges of murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, cruelty to children, aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, false imprisonment, abandonment of a dead body, making a false statement, and sexual exploitation of children.
Evidence of his crime was not lacking: the girl’s DNA was found on his belongings and his fingerprints were discovered all over the crime scene.
Brunn described the story of his crime in detail before the court. As a newly hired maintenance worker at the apartment complex where the Rivera’s lived, he discovered Jorelys’ skate, and though he had never spoken to her, plotted how he might trick the girl. He took a picture of her skate with his cell phone, and hid the skate in an empty apartment. “I was going to lure her in for sex,” he told the court.
She said that the skate was hers. After she followed him to the apartment, he commanded her to lie on a mattress and pull down her pants. When she asked to use the bathroom he followed her in and put her in the bathtub. He said she didn’t ask to leave, but wanted to go home when he was finished.
“I got scared in there from what I was doing and I didn’t want her to go home and tell on me,” he said. So he tied her arms with plastic, stuffed her mouth with a dishrag, taped her mouth, and slit her throat with a carpet razor. She was not yet dead. She struggled for minutes as he hit her over the head repeatedly with her own skate.
“I didn’t want her to go home and tell her mom or dad on me,” said Brunn, “So I cut her throat.” When he said this, the Rivera family in the front row of the court sobbed.
He then wrapped Jorelys’ body in a blanket and stuffed her in the apartment complex’s trash compactor.
Brunn even helped look for the girl the next day. “I helped them look for that child, the idiot that I am,” he said.
Brunn said he deserved whatever punishment the judge gave him. Because he confessed, he was no longer a candidate for the death penalty: he would serve a life sentence without the chance of parole.
Ricardo Galarza, Jorelys’ father, said the suicide made him “feel good, but on the other hand, it doesn’t because my daughter will never be with me again. What I wanted was for them to put him in the electric chair and burn him. I would have taken him there myself and prepared for it, so he would burn.”