Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 13, 2024
Former Georgia Police Officer Sentenced to Life Without Parole for Murder of Teen Susana MoralesSource: Unsplash/ Matthew Ansley

A former Georgia police officer has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of 16-year-old Susana Morales. Miles Bryant, who previously served as a Doraville Police officer, was convicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping, and filing a false report of a crime. The verdict, delivered by a Gwinnett County jury, concluded a high-profile trial that drew attention to Bryant's abuse of power and betrayal of his oath to uphold the law, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

In a trial laden with emotional testimony and technical evidence, the jury heard from Morales' mother, Maria Bran, who described the pain of losing her daughter and the sleepless nights that followed. "Every night I can't sleep without thinking about her," Bran said in a statement echoed by the Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tamela L. Adkins. The trial also featured arguments highlighting the use of a Life360 mobile application that played a part in tracing Bryant's location near where Morales' remains were found, as reported by 11Alive.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors underscored Bryant's violation of his professional duties, while the defense requested leniency citing his youth. Bryant expressed regret to the court, stating, "I just want to apologize to everybody, to the victim's family, that's it," as recounted by a FOX 5 Atlanta report. The prosecutor, Special Prosecutor Brandon Delfunt, labeled Bryant a "monster" during the court proceedings, advocating for the maximum penalty.

Details provided during the trial revealed various efforts to locate Morales following her disappearance in July 2022, including testimony from Morales' best friend and her boyfriend, and the emotional testimony of Gwinnett County Police Lt. Xavier Biggers, who told the court, "The anguish and sadness that the mother felt touched me deeply." According to the testimony obtained by 11Alive, a wrenching Life360 alert depicted a disturbing sudden direction change on the night Morales vanished, setting off a desperate search that ended tragically with the discovery of her remains months later.

Bryant's defense attorney, Tracy Drake, reflected on the jury's reaction to the evidence, particularly the Life360 tracking data, and the strategy behind presenting Bryant in a blunt manner during opening statements. She also conveyed her sympathy to Susana's mother, "I did give her a hug today to express my condolences to her," Drake said in a statement shared by 11Alive. As the community and the Morales family process this outcome, Bryant begins his life sentence, accountability delivered by a system he once served.