The man facing charges in the deaths of two Dearborn, Mich. Family Dollar employees told the victims' families he was innocent as he left the court following his arraignment.
Lavere Douglas-Lee Bryant, 34, faces eight counts, including two first-degree murder charges connected to the shooting deaths of Brenna Machus and Joseph Orlando earlier this month.
"I did not murder them," Bryant said to the families of Machus and Orlando as he was led out of court Thursday.
Bryant was arrested July 19, the day after Machus, 20, was found shot in the head in a wooded area near the Rouge River. Orlando, 20, was found shot in the head July 16 in the Family Dollar in Dearborn when other employees arrived to open the store.
The suspect had been fired earlier this year as an assistant manager at a different Family Dollar for allegedly harassing employees.
In addition to first-degree murder, Bryant faces two counts of felony murder and one count each of armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, being a felon in possession of a firearm, felony use of a firearm and being a habitual offender, third offense.
Bryant has two previous convictions: In 1999, he was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and in 2001, he was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. He was also previously charged with first-degree home invasion, but the case was dismissed.
“This is a case with no winners -- all losers," said Police Chief Ronald Haddad. "The public can rest easier because it’s a safe place. It can happen anywhere in America, and it happened here.”