DENTON, Texas - Tarrant County jurors on Monday convicted a man for the murder of a Texas Woman’s University student in 2016 and subsequently sentenced him to life in prison.
The jury deliberated for about two and a half hours Monday morning before returning the guilty verdict for Charles Bryant. The court then immediately began the punishment phase, which resulted in the life in prison sentence. Bryant was also found guilty of tampering with evidence.
In the end the jury couldn't escape the images left by the state's evidence. Surveillance videos showed Bryant and Jacqueline Vandagriff, 24, together at a couple of Denton bars and leaving together. A large black knife was among the physical evidence that prosecutors say Bryant used to dismember Vandagriff's body and later set on fire in a park at Grapevine Lake.
"Imagine the emotional drain it takes on a family got have this happen to a member of their family and to hear all the details as grotesque as they were, still maintaining their composure like they did,” said John Luna, retired Grapevine PD captain. “All they wanted they just wanted justice for their daughter ad and to day they finally got that."
Bryant’s defense attorney argued Vandagriff died during rough but consensual sex. A plastic tie was placed around her neck, causing asphyxiation. The defense said he panicked and disposed of her body but did not commit murder.
But the jury did not buy that story.
In the punishment phase of the trial, the state introduced testimony that police found child pornography on Bryant’s cell phone.
Jacqueline’s father, Rick testified during the punishment phase about the support his family has received from the community.
"Some very good friends have been inviting us to their homes for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner and very grateful to have those kind of friends,” Rick Vandagriff said.
The family released a statement that said if Jackie could speak to now she would say, "Remember me, remember my hopes and dreams for the future and my plans to get there.”