A Texas man was convicted Monday of murdering a college student who was found dismembered and burned in 2016.
The 12-member jury rejected Charles Dean Bryant’s defense that he panicked only after the 24-year-old woman died during consensual “kinky” sex.
Jacqueline Vandagriff, a junior at Texas Woman’s University, vanished on the evening of Sept. 13, 2016 — not long after she spent time with Bryant, 31, at a bar in Denton, Texas. Her remains were later found burning in a plastic kiddie pool in a park near Lake Grapevine.
Police soon uncovered security footage of her sharing a drink with Bryant, and they said the two eventually left the bar together.
Authorities also suspect that Bryant, 31, updated Vandagraff’s Twitter account after her death.
The night before her body was found, a tweet on Vandagriff’s account read, “I’m glad I decided to get off tinder and waked into a bar.”
“Never knew I could feel like this,” reads the tweet that appeared on Vandagriff’s page on Sept. 15, one day after her charred corpse was recovered.
Bryant had been charged with capital murder in Vandagriff’s slaying.
During her opening statement on April 9, defense attorney Glynis McGinty told jurors that Bryant is only guilty of evidence tampering but was not guilty of murder.
McGinty argued that Bryant “freak out” after Vandagriff’s death, which the defense claimed occurred during sex, and tried to hide her body.
“He went to Walmart at 4 a.m. and bought a shovel and goes back to his house where he had left Jackie and tried to dig a hole but the earth was too hard,” she told the jury.
But the prosecution argued otherwise, pointing out that Vandagriff’s purse was found in a garbage can in Bryant’s home. The prosecution also cited evidence that Vandagriff was bound.
The indictment against Bryant stated that he “killed and caused serious bodily injury to Jacqueline Vandagriff using a zip tie, a knife or machete, and an unknown object.”
“Jackie had just started a new path at TWU,” prosecutor Lucas Allen said in his opening statement, according to local TV station WFAA. “It was a good path, until an evil, destructive figure, Charles Bryant, stepped .”
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Jurors in Fort Worth agreed with the prosecution. They deliberated less than three hours before finding Bryant guilty of murder. He was also found guilty of tampering with evidence.
The punishment phase of the trial is underway. Bryant faces up to life in prison.
PEOPLE’s call to McGinty were not immediately returned and it was unclear if Bryant planned to appeal.
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