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Murder suspect ?very, very sad'

By Ed Brock

Charles Warren Reynolds so far is not putting up much of a defense against the murder charges against him in connection with the strangulation of his girlfriend, Reynolds' attorney said Thursday.

"He's very, very sad about this situation," attorney John Beall said.

Reynolds, 38, appeared at a preliminary hearing Thursday to determine if there was enough evidence to show he strangled 27-year-old Marissa Jeanne Vaziri to send the case to the grand jury for indictment. After hearing Clayton County police Detective Shaun Hiers testify, Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Clara Bucci did bind the case over to the grand jury.

Reynolds was arrested on May 4 at Vaziri's Riverdale apartment after calling a friend and other members of the Riverdale Church of God to come pray with him, saying "He was at the end of his rope," Hiers said in his testimony.

Members of the church group found Vaziri's body in the bedroom and called 911.

Hiers said Reynolds told police that the two had been drinking and taking pills on the night of May 2 and around 3 a.m. on May 3 there was a physical altercation between them in the bedroom. Reynolds demonstrated to officers how he had shaken Vaziri and Hiers said he displayed holding the girl in a "choking motion."

"She's such a good girl but she wouldn't calm down. I didn't know what else to do. It wasn't me. This must be a dream," was one of the statements Hiers said Reynolds made to police.

After Vaziri lost consciousness Reynolds dressed her and put her into bed. Reynolds also cleaned the apartment, Heirs said. Police found her in the bed with the covers pulled up to her face and a Zippo lighter in her hand.

Under questioning by Beall Hiers said he saw red marks on Vaziri's neck but could not see any obvious bruising. An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's forensic laboratory showed that the cause of death was strangulation, Hiers said. But he added that the medical examiner could not tell by looking if the hyoid bone, a U-shaped bone located at the base of the tongue had been fractured but she planned to do a more thorough exam.

A fracturing of the fragile hyoid bone is a sign of strangulation.

Beall also questioned Hiers as to whether or not any pills or barbiturates had been found in the apartment, drawing an objection from Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Rita Lewis.

"I'm just looking for other possible causes of death," Beall said.

Reynolds will remain in jail pending a bond hearing on June 6 at 9 a.m. Beall moved for a postponement of the hearing so he could find Reynolds' family members to testify on his behalf.

Some of Vaziri's friends attended the hearing. One of those friends, Jessica Blankenship, said previously that Reynolds and Vaziri had been dating for about six weeks and that Vaziri had contacted her about a week before the killing and expressed a desire for Reynolds to leave the apartment where the two were living.

"She said she felt sorry for him because he had nowhere else to go," Blankenship said.