Luke Bryant Takes Stand in his Manslaughter Trial
Luke Bryant, 20, took the stand in his manslaughter trial in Belfast, Thursday. Bryant is accused of shooting and killing his friend, 19-year old Tyler Seaney, in February 2011.Throughout the trial, which began Tuesday, the defense has maintained Bryant was clearing his shotgun when it accidentally discharged as Seaney walked into the room, killing him. However, during opening statements earlier in the week, Asst. Attorney General Leane Zainea said Seaney’s death was the result of a “scare game” the two friends played, where they would point unloaded guns at each other and pull the trigger.Before Zainea rested her case Thursday, she played a police interview for jurors, during which Bryant confesses to trying to scare Seaney when he shot him. The admission came towards the end of the interview, which lasted about 3.5 hours. As Bryant began to tell detectives what happened, he became emotional and started crying. Det. Jason Andrews asked Bryant to “tell the truth,” and Bryant explained that Seaney had shot him in the leg with an airsoft gun earlier in the day, and he was just trying to get him back. He said Seaney went to the bathroom, so he picked up the gun and waited for him to come back into the room, planning to pulling the trigger on what he thought was an unloaded gun. “I shot him. I didn’t know it was loaded,” said Bryant.When asked if Seaney said anything, Bryant replied, “He really didn’t have time to say anything…he just dropped.”After the state rested, defense attorney Steven Peterson called Bryant to the stand as his only witness. Bryant explained that he only changed his story to police because he was tired and he felt like he just needed to give the detectives what they wanted. He testified that he knew they would continue to bring him in for questioning until he said it was all part of this “game.”A cousin of Bryant, who has been at the trial all week, said no one is more remorseful about what happened than Bryant. Jasmine Sawyer believes Bryant was telling the truth when he said he never intended to scare Seaney, but instead just made a tragic accident.”What happened, the mistake that Luke made, the fatal mistake that Luke made, doesn’t make him a bad person, it just makes him human,” she said.Both the state and defense are expected to give closing arguments Friday morning, after which the jury will go into deliberation.If convicted, Bryant faces up to thirty years in prison.