Ex-officer charged with Susana Morales' murder rejects plea deal

Myles Bryant rejected the prosecution's plea deal before jury selection got underway Monday. He told the court he was ready to go to trial on murder charges in the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales.

Bryant is accused of kidnapping and killing Morales as she walked home from a friend's house in July 2022.

In the warrant application, officials allege that Bryant, who was working as a police officer at the time of Morales' death, lives close to where she was last reported on Windscape Village Lane in Norcross and dumped her naked body in the woods.

Police also accuse Bryant of falsely reporting that his vehicle had been broken into and that his gun was stolen.

Bryant claimed he left his truck door unlocked when the theft occurred, but Gwinnett County's police chief said his investigators found Bryant's handgun in the same wooded area on Drowning Creek Road where they found Morales's remains. 

Former Doraville Police Department Officer Miles Bryant arrested in death of 16-year-old Susana Morales.

Former Doraville Police Department Officer Miles Bryant was arrested for the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales. (Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)

During jury selection, one potential juror admitted serving on the jury would prove difficult, saying, "It's not like we are talking about a car accident or somebody steal a watch from a store.  It has long-lasting consequences, and it's a scary place to be, in one of those chairs."

If convicted, the former Doraville Police officer faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Bryant's attorneys asked the judge to declare a mistrial after one potential juror stated during questioning in open court that she had heard weird things about the defendant.  Bryant's attorney said those remarks prejudiced potential jurors.

The prosecution pushed back, telling the judge the woman's testimony would not negatively influence the jury pool.

After listening to both sides, the judge dismissed all 14 jurors who were in court during that testimony.

The trial resumes Tuesday.


What happened to Susana Morales?

Morales disappeared while visiting a friend's home in July 2022. Morales' family members told police they hadn't seen her since the evening of July 26, 2022. That night, detectives said Morales texted her mom at 9:40 p.m. to tell her she was on her way to her home on Santa Anna Drive. Officials confirmed an app on Morales' cell phone showed that she was walking in that direction on Singleton Road from Windscape Village Lane between 10:07 p.m. and 10:21 p.m., but detectives said they had reason to believe she had gotten into a vehicle.

Between 10:21 p.m. and 10:26 p.m., her phone indicated that she was in the area of Oak Loch Trace and Steve Reynolds Boulevard. Her phone pinged at that location until it either died or was turned off. Morales never made it home.

Susana Morales (Gwinnett County Police Department)

A breakthrough in the case came on Feb. 6, 2023, when officers responded to a wooded area along Drowning Creek Road after someone reported they found what they believed to be human remains. 

The Gwinnett Medical Examiner's office tested the remains and said the DNA matched Morales' dental records. The site was about 20 miles from where the teen was last seen.

A few days later, police announced they had arrested Bryant for murder.

Who is Myles Bryant?

Before becoming a Doraville police officer, Bryant was a sworn sheriff's deputy in Forsyth County from March 2020 to May 2021.

The former law enforcement officer is also facing charges of first-degree burglary in Snellville over accusations that he broke into the home of one of his former classmates.

A former classmate of Bryant's who spoke to FOX 5 in February 2023 accused Bryant of stalking her and breaking into her home in May 2019. She said the incidents happened before Morales disappeared in July 2022

A neighbor shared a Ring video with Bates, showing a man lurking around her door on several occasions, tugging on the doorknob. Back in February, Bates told FOX 5 that she believed Bryant broke into her apartment one time while she was not home, sharing photos of her damaged front door.

Bates said she feared for her life and reported the behavior to both the former officer's employer, the Doraville Police Department, and the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Doraville Police claimed it underwent an administrative investigation. Officials said Bryant was spoken to and the behavior had stopped. Doraville Police said they told Bates to report any potential criminal charges to the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Police said investigators closed Bates' case against Bryant due to a ‘lack of leads’. They reopened it in 2023 after receiving new information.