None of his family members were present as murder suspect Ryan Brunn made his first court appearance Thursday in Cherokee County Superior Court in connection with the slaying of 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera of Canton.
Wearing an orange jail suit and a bulletproof vest, a shackled Brunn was led into the courtroom in downtown Canton, where he sat beside two court-appointed public defenders.
After glancing around the courtroom, the 20-year-old suspect showed little emotion as charges were read against him. At one point, he hung his head. When asked about his education level, Brunn told Judge Frank Mills that he had completed the 10th grade.
Brunn, previously of Dahlonega, is accused of gagging, binding, raping, beating and stabbing Jorelys before tossing her body into an industrial trash compactor at the apartment complex where they both lived. He had moved to the River Ridge complex in November and was employed as a maintenance worker.
Jorelys' body was found Monday. She had been missing since about 5 p.m. Friday, last seen on a playground in the complex.
Investigators say Brunn killed her in a vacant apartment in the building next to her mother's building. Her mouth was duct-taped, her hands and feet bound with plastic ties, and her body had been compacted by the mechanical dumpster only operable by maintenance staff.
Brunn has been charged with homicide and making false statements, according to the affidavit for his arrest warrant. Additional charges may be filed by the Cherokee County District Attorney's Office.
The hearing lasted only a few minutes before deputies escorted Brunn out of the courtroom and back to the county's jail, where he is being held without bond.
"He's separated from other inmates," Lt. Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said after the hearing.
Brunn's next court appearance is expected in January.
Outside the courthouse, 19-year-old Jesus Palomino told the AJC that he came to Brunn's hearing because lives in the same apartment complex and is both angry and sad about the girl's death. Palomino said his young cousin, who also lives in the complex, was a friend of Jorelys' and is struggling to cope with the loss.