The Utah Court of Appeals overturned a St. George man’s life-without-parole sentence Thursday for raping and torturing a 15-year-old girl with a screwdriver and a blowtorch.
The ruling doesn’t mean 51-year-old Marc Clifton Bryant will be free anytime soon, however.
State attorneys actually asked for the sentence to be overturned after discovering life without parole wasn’t a sentencing option for aggravated kidnapping when Bryant committed the crime in 2004, said Ryan Tenney, an assistant Utah Attorney General.
“We feel an obligation to make sure things are done correctly and people are treated fairly,” said Tenney, who also asked the court to add to Bryant’s prison time with a new, additional sentence on child abuse charges.
The appeals court sided with the state, and Bryant now faces 15 years to life on the aggravated kidnapping charge and 1 to 15 years on the child abuse charge.
“He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and he shouldn’t,” Tenney said. “This is as appalling a case as I’ve had to work on.”
Bryant met the victim, a daughter of one of his friends, when she was 11 years old. He raped her for the first time when she was 15 and subsequently suggested the girl and her mother move in with him to reduce expenses, according to court documents.Bryant attacked the girl after she said she needed to go to school early to work on a science project. He first handcuffed her to the bed and tortured her all night long, including burning her face and arm with a screwdriver heated with a blowtorch, then drove her to a remote area and continued to beat her. He finally brought the girl home the next day, where he raped her again before showing the girl’s injuries to her mother.
After he was charged, Bryant fled. He was convicted in absentia and appeared on “America’s Most Wanted” before he was arrested in 2008 at a Golden Corral restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla. He was sentenced the following year.
In addition to the kidnapping and child abuse, Bryant was also convicted on three counts of rape, witness tampering, criminal solicitation and issuing a terroristic threat. Even without the aggravated kidnapping charge, his prison sentence is 15 years to life.
The trial judge merged his sentence on the child abuse charge with the aggravated kidnapping, but once the life-without-parole sentence was removed, the court was free to order the additional child abuse sentence.
His defense attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.