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Killer refuses to discuss night of murder
In exclusive interview, Priestly says no one would believe him
W PRIESTLEY DARYL
Darryl Priestly

Darryl Priestly pled guilty Monday in Bulloch County Superior Court to the murder of his high school friend Brandie Danielle Davis, who was found dead in her Campus Crossings apartment Dec. 8, 2009. But in an exclusive interview inside the Bulloch County Jail Wednesday with the Statesboro Herald, the convicted killer refused to discuss anything about the night Davis died.

Priestly denied ever having "admitted anything" in court Monday, although he pled guilty to Davis' murder. He said he agreed to the plea because "I knew I couldn't beat the charge" in a trial. Also, he said he did not make up his mind to plead guilty until "five minutes before the judge" asked him how he pled to murder, tampering with evidence and giving false statements.

Priestly declined to answer if he owed an explanation about why he killed Davis or the circumstances behind her death to Davis' family, his family, and the public. About that night, all he said was "Danielle knows (what happened) ..."

Priestly, 18, agreed Tuesday to an interview with the Herald, but in an interview room in the jail he wanted to know why his photo and the story about the murder were on the front page.

"My friends said my picture was on the front page, big as Montana."

He refused to answer questions about his family, hesitating before each query before saying "Next question."

He said he did not want his family exposed to any media attention. Priestly also said he has talked to no one about the murder, not even his 21-year-old brother, to whom he said he "tells everything."

Davis, 19, was found dead in her Statesboro apartment, after apartment staff checked on her at her family's request. The family was concerned because Davis did not return calls and had not shown up for her mother's surgery that day.

Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Daphne Jarriel prosecuted the murder case. During bond and other hearings, she described the murder scene as showing evidence of a struggle, with Davis' body being battered, bruised, and having what appeared to be carpet burns. There was evidence of strangulation by hand as well as electrical cords. Priestly's DNA was found on the cords. Also, a mechanical pencil was found inside the roof of Davis' mouth; a wound that occurred posthumously, according to autopsy reports.

A laundry basket and its contents, along with a chair, were dumped over Davis' body. Her shirt and brassiere were pulled up, but Jarriel said there was no evidence of sexual assault.

According to statements he made to police, Priestly said he wrapped the cords around Davis' neck and otherwise did things to make it appear someone else had killed her, after stating she died because of falling and jamming the pencil into her mouth. He said in statements the two were horsing around. Autopsy reports proved the wound by the pencil did not cause Davis' death; she died from strangulation.

When asked about the proof from autopsy reports that his DNA was found in the cords, and asked why he tried to make Davis' death appear as if it happened otherwise, Priestly said, "Next question."

High School friends

Priestly said he met Davis in high school in ninth grade English class, in their Georgia hometown of McDonough. He said he was a B student, a member of the Refuge House of Worship and was never in any trouble with the law before.

He and Davis became friends, he said, although they were "not really close." They partied together a couple of times, and after both of them graduated and went to different colleges (Davis went to Ogeechee Technical College while Priestly attended East Georgia College, both in Statesboro) he said he saw her "a couple of times in bars."

But he and friend Raul DelGado felt close enough to Davis to ask her for a ride to pick up DelGado's truck Dec. 7, 2009. They later returned to her apartment, and spent about an hour there before they and a third man, Anthony Farber, left Davis' apartment around 10:30 p.m. that night.

Priestly said Wednesday the reason he went back to the apartment alone was to find his cell phone, which he said was later located between couch cushions. He said Davis dialed his number twice, a fact proven by her phone records, while he was inside the house, in an effort to locate the lost phone.

Phone records also showed Davis spoke to her fiancé over the phone, telling him it was her friend Molly at the door around 11:10 p.m. Dec. 7, 2009, instead of telling him it was actually Priestly. As to why she did that, he said "I'd like to know that myself."

When pressed for other details about what happened the night Davis died, however, Priestly wouldn't talk.

"I don't want to get into it," he said, adding that no one would believe him anyway.

He said the DA and prosecutors did not believe what he told them.

"There is no point in telling," he said. "Nobody would understand and they would think I am lying. If I haven't told my brother, who I tell everything, I'm not going to."

When asked if telling what happened would not help him as well as Davis' and his own family members to heal from the pain that was caused by her murder, he said "Heal? I've got 40 years to heal."

Life in prison

Bulloch County Superior Court Judge William T. Woodrum sentenced Priestly to life in prison, plus 10 years to serve, for the murder and related charges. He will remain in the Bulloch County Jail until transfer to a prison, likely after Christmas, said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson. The location has yet to be determined, he said.
Priestly said he is prepared for prison life. An "old school" inmate in the Bulloch County Jail told him there was no sense in being depressed and moping because after it was all over, he would still be in prison.

"At first, when I took this plea, I was moping and all sad."

But when the older inmate told him life would not change just because he moped, Priestly said he decided to accept his fate.

"I'm not all happy, but I have to move on to the next chapter," he said. "Another crazy world. I'm not about to go to little boy camp - going where the big dogs are at. I've got to get my head right. If I said I was completely confident, I'd be lying. This is a life or survival. If I get stabbed, I get stabbed. If I get beat down, I get beat down. This is the life of prison."

He wouldn't answer if he believes Davis' family could or should forgive him for killing Davis. He also wouldn't answer if he could forgive himself for her murder.

But when it came to Davis' family, he said, "I intended to say something to them in court, but reporters were there, and I didn't want the world to know..."

He continued talking about how he planned to deal with life in prison, and said, "I have to rebuild myself emotionally, mentally and physically."

After he was asked if the events leading to Davis' murder were a result of an emotional or mental breakdown, Priestly became agitated, stood up and pressed a button for a guard to allow him out of the small interview room.

 

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