The Coward's Way?

Ryan Brunn, a mere 48 hours after pleading guilty to murdering Jorelys Rivera, killed himself in his cell. Was it cowardice?

"You took the coward's way out, you piece of crap. You deserved to live your HELL out on earth."

That was the first comment I read on a story about Ryan Brunn's apparent suicide yesterday. Other comments soon followed, most in a similar vein - Brunn, in killing himself - got off easy. Other commenters echoed Jorelys' mom, Jocelyn, who said, "This is the kind of justice that I was expecting for him for all the damage that he made to my little daughter. Now, I can say that I feel satisfied.”

And others weren't suitable for reprint.

I have to confess that I had forgotten all about Ryan Brunn and Jorelys Rivera, mainly because I expected the case to drag on the way those types of cases typically do; so when I read the story of his suicide (thinking he'd done it as a way to avoid prosecution) I was stunned to learned that he'd confessed and entered a guilty plea.

I followed a link to . I wanted to throw up in my mouth.

"Please," Jorelys apparently said to him, "I just want to go home."

Then he slit her throat and left her for dead. When that didn't kill her, he beat her with the same roller skate he'd used to lure her into the vacant apartment where she died.

Brunn then put her in a trash bag, along with some other evidence, put the bag on the back of his maintainence cart and deposited it into the trash compactor. Then he turned the compactor on.

You know the rest.

Brunn entered the guilty plea in exchange for life without possibility of parole or release. He stood in front of a courtroom full of family (both his and Jorelys') and recounted the whole sordid story. He looked Jocelyn Rivera in the eyes and apologized.

Then, a day or so later, he took his own life.

It certainly seems like the coward's way out. With nothing to look forward to other than a life in prison with other inmates who usually don't treat child molestors/killers very kindly, suicide by cell seems the lesser of two evils. I suppose you could also try and make him out to be a semi-tragic hero - a young man with a dark past who committed an atrocious crime and, in the ultimate act of atonement, took his own life as a way of showing the family of the victim that his judgment of himself was harsher than our court of law.

You could try that.

But you'd be stretching things.

The reality is we don't know why Brunn did what he did in that cell anymore than we can know why he did what he did in that apartment. If he truly were a deviant person, then do we really want to know what he was thinking? Do we really want to look that deeply into the heart of a monster?

I say yes.

It's telling that even in Brunn's death a great many people are unsatisfied still. They got the ends they longed for, but the means left them cold. All it tells me is that in a case like this, there's no justice we can mete that is true enough. At the end of the day, Brunn's death doesn't reverse what happened to Jorelys. We are still left with the why? and no hope for answers. Brunn's suicide has denied us even that much.

Which makes his a coward's death indeed.

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Crystal Huskey January 20, 2012 at 10:37 PM
At first I thought he pleaded guilty in order to avoid the death sentence. Seems odd that he would avoid that and then commit suicide.
Jason Brooks January 21, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Crystal - that was my understanding too. I wonder - and perhaps this is too much TV - if he heard just how badly other inmates treat convicted child molesters/child killers in prison and killed himself to save himself the years of abuse?
Holly Roberson (Editor) January 21, 2012 at 09:47 PM
He was under a suicide watch at the Cherokee jail, meaning he wore paper clothes and was watched at all times. This may have been his first opportunity. Here's a story I wrote with tons of detail. http://patch.com/A-qmxQ
Jason Brooks January 21, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Holly - I linked to your story within my post. It's the best article on the subject that I've read, even better than the AJC's coverage. I do remember reading in your piece about the suicide watch in Cherokee, so I wonder why they determined it wasn't necessary for the State facility?
Robert Thomas. Sr. January 22, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Who cares? Good riddance to bad rubbish! The left has made death penalty sentences in this country a joke with no real justice for the victim but years of turmoil to his or her family, as in the celebrated cop killing case in Savannah. More such cases should end like this to provide a small modicum of justice to the victims and to society.
monkeyshines January 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM
coward is a cheesy word thrown around at the wrong actions ! most of the time people call someone a coward when they do something with such audacity ,which actually takes guts to do like when sherrif deputy john bunnell on cops calls a guy running from police at 140 mph down the road a coward and others ,jus real cheezy ya know . no what this kid did took some nerve it was sad and trajic he knew he did wrong and had he been on death row then he wouldnt have gotten the oppurtunity like this to kill himself saving himself 20 years of misery jus sittin there
Jason Brooks January 28, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Interesting perspective, monkeyshines. Thanks.


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