A 31-year-old North Texas man was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted Monday of killing a young woman and then dumping her body in a city park.
Late Monday morning, a jury found Charles Dean Bryant, of Haslet, guilty of murdering 24-year-old Jacqueline Vandagriff in September 2016 and then burning and dismembering her body and dumping it in a Grapevine park.
"We will continue to devote our life to building her legacy of kindness and compassion," said Jackie's uncle Randy Vandagriff. "What would Jackie say if we could talk to her? We believe she would say, 'Remember me. Remember my hopes and dreams for the future and my plans to get there.'"
The family said they plan to start an endowment at Texas Woman's University in Jackie's name. She was studying nutrition at TWU.
In court, Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Lucas Allen said Vandagriff, of Frisco, was on a good path in life studying nutrition at Texas Woman's University, until it was cut short two years ago when she met Bryant at an off-campus bar.
Surveillance video played for the jury showed the couple at two bars near the University of North Texas. Police later traced Vandagriff's cell phone to near Bryant's Haslet home.
Bryant's defense attorney Glynis McGinty argued Vandagriff died during “kinky” sex with Bryant and that he panicked after she died. She added her client is guilty only of tampering with evidence by hiding Vandagriff's body.
Bryant 's defense attorneys had asked the jury for 20 years but in the punishment phase of the trial Monday afternoon they handed Bryant a maximum sentence of life behind bars.
He could be eligible for parole in 30 years, a district attorney's spokeswoman said.
Separately, Bryant is also facing unrelated child pornography charges. When investigators looked through his phone in the murder investigation, they said they found pornographic images of minors. It is not clear when that case will head to trial.
NBC 5's Frank Heinz and Eline de Bruijn contributed to this report.