Sentence overturned for man convicted of Family Dollar murders

A man convicted of a double murder in Dearborn -- is getting a new trial.

This comes nearly two years after Lavere Bryant was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the killing of Brenna Machus and Joe Orlando. It was a high-profile crime that kept the community on edge for days and tonight family members of the victims received a shocking phone call.

They learned the man who they thought would spend the rest of his life behind bars would get a new trial.

"My heart hit the floor," said Jamie Machus, Brenna Machus' father. "I didn't know what to think honestly."

"It hurts, scared if it has to go to trial again we have to relive it all over again," said Alan Konkel, Joe Orlando's grandfather.

The family of Joe Orlando and Brenna Machus was devastated to learn the man found guilty of killing both 20-year-olds back in 2013 - had his murder convictions overturned.

Lavere Bryant was sentenced to life in prison, but the Michigan Appeals Court said his trial was tainted when jurors heard testimony of his criminal past, which included sex assault and pornography.

Joe's grandfather Alan Konkel says he was in court at the time.

"All I can say about it is his lawyer is the one who brought it out in court," Konkel said. "That's why it was admitted. His people are the ones that brought it up. There was a past criminal history."

"I didn't see why that was wrong," said Machus. "I think the judiciary system failed."

"You can read about whatever he did in the past on the was on the internet," said Bonnie Orlando, Joe's grandmother. "Everyone knew what he did - I mean it's disgusting, it's just disgusting."

Bonnie Orlando spoke to FOX 2 by phone but later invited us into the home where she raised her grandson Joe since he was a toddler. She is heartbroken by the court's decision. Every picture, playroom and bedroom she says have remained untouched since Joe's murder.

"Joey was in the wrong the place at the wrong time," she said.

Joe Orlando had just started working at the Dearborn Family Dollar along with Brenna Machus. In July of 2013, police say Lavere Bryant seen in surveillance video, shot and killed Joe and kidnapped Brenna, a former co-worker. Her body was later found in a field. She had been raped, beaten and shot.

Lavere Bryant will remain behind bars, but at this point he is expected to get a new trial.

Family members have already sat through a painful trial. They are not sure how they are going to handle it, all over again.

"It kills me and now I have to put up with another trial and it is going to open these old wounds again," Machus said.

"They say closure, I don't think there is anything like that," Konkel said. "I still miss him, I still wish he was here and it is still hard."

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office plans to appeal the court's decision, while relatives believe there is enough evidence to convict him again.

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