Man testifies he witnessed SIU student's slaying

Sunday, May 28, 2006

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- One of the first witnesses at the Jackson County trial of a couple accused of killing a Southern Illinois University student from Chicago testified he saw one of the defendants strike the student, then later stab him and light his car on fire.

Jeff Holt testified Friday that he saw John Bryant hit Christopher Gandy, 23, with a crescent wrench, ceramic flower pots and a rock at Bryant's home before stabbing him and igniting the car at a nearby cemetery.

John and Lisa Bryant, both 37 and of Murphysboro, are charged with four counts each of first-degree murder in Gandy's death. John Bryant also is charged with concealing a homicide.

Attorneys gave their opening statements on Thursday.

Holt, who is not charged in the case, testified that he went to the Bryants' home the evening of Jan. 27 to buy drugs.

Defense attorney Paul Christenson noted inconsistencies in Holt's testimony and statements he had given police. Holt admitted to initially not cooperating with police, saying he had told John Bryant that he wouldn't say anything.

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