April 10, 2018 09:50 PM

An attorney for a Texas man accused of capital murder in the 2016 slaying of a 24-year-old college student claims her client is not a killer and instead panicked about what to do with her body after the woman died during “kinky” consensual sex.

During her opening statement Monday in the trial of Charles Dean Bryant, defense attorney Glynis McGinty told jurors that the 31-year-old is only guilty of evidence tampering but was not guilty of murdering Texas Woman’s University junior Jacqueline Vandagriff.

McGinty argued that Bryant “freak[ed] out” after Vandagriff’s death and tried to hide her body.

“He went to Walmart at 4 a.m. and bought a shovel and goes back to his house where he had left Jackie and tried to dig a hole but the earth was too hard,” she told the jury.

Authorities believe otherwise, reportedly describing Bryant as a menacing force who crossed into Vandagriff’s life with fatal results.

“Jackie had just started a new path at TWU,” prosecutor Lucas Allen said in his opening, according to local TV station WFAA. “It was a good path, until an evil, destructive figure, Charles Bryant, stepped [in].”

Jacqueline Vandagriff
Jackie Vandagriff/Facebook

The prosecution argues that Bryant intentionally killed Vandagriff, citing evidence that she was bound. The indictment alleges that he “killed and caused serious bodily injury to Jacqueline Vandagriff using a zip tie, a knife or machete, and an unknown object.”

Allen did not comment on the defense’s contention that Vandagriff died while she was having sex, according to the Dallas Morning News.

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Charles Dean Bryant
Grapevine Police Dept.

Vandagriff, who had studied nutrition at TWU and reportedly worked as a waitress and esthetician, vanished on the evening of Sept. 13, 2016 — not long after she spent time with Bryant at a bar in Denton, Texas.

According to authorities, her remains were found burning in a plastic kiddie pool in a park near Lake Grapevine.

Police soon uncovered security footage of her sharing a drink with Bryant and they say the two eventually left the bar together.

Authorities also suspect that Bryant updated Vandagraff’s Twitter account after her death.

The night before her body was found, Vandagriff appeared to tweet, “I’m glad I decided to get off tinder and waked [sic] into a bar.”

“Never knew I could feel like this,” reads the tweet that appeared on Vandagriff’s page on Sept. 15, one day after her torched corpse was recovered.

Bryant was charged with capital murder in Vandagriff’s slaying, which occurred days after he was released from custody in a separate stalking case. Bryant also faces an unrelated child pornography charge, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The disposition of that case and the earlier stalking case were unclear Tuesday.

Police say they secured video evidence that allegedly shows Bryant buying a shovel at a Walmart hours after he was seen leaving the bar with Vandagriff in September 2016, and her purse was found in a garbage can in Bryant’s home.

If he is convicted of capital murder, Bryant faces the death penalty. His trial is expected to last more than a week.

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