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Women's Bodybuilding Megan Avalon

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Craig Titus Strangled Melissa James, Kelly Ryan Injected Her With Morphine - Grand Jury Transcripts

What this reveals are the actions of two very sick people.

GRAND JURY TRANSCRIPTS: Friend: Pair told of violence

Bodybuilders described confrontation, woman testified


Kelly Ryan participated in the brutality that culminated in the death of her personal assistant by using a Taser gun on the victim, beating her and helping to inject the woman with a massive dose of morphine, Ryan's self-described best friend told a grand jury.

In her testimony to the grand jury that indicted Ryan and Ryan's husband, Craig Titus, on murder charges, Megan Pierson, 25, also said Titus demonstrated how he strangled 28-year-old Melissa James, according to the grand jury transcripts.

Pierson told the grand jury that she and her husband, Jeremy Foley, were at Ryan and Titus' southwest valley home on Dec. 13, the same day authorities suspect Titus and Ryan's live-in assistant was slain.

Pierson testified that Ryan told her that a confrontation had occurred between her and James at the home because she and Titus suspected James was stealing from them and was planning to steal their identities.

Ryan is a 33-year-old past Ms. Fitness America and Ms. Olympia runner-up, and Titus is a 40-year-old past place-winner of international Mr. Olympia competitions.

"They had gone into Melissa's room and found, opened up, a lock box that had credit cards, copies of credit cards, a (home equity line of credit) statement ... and copies of IDs," Pierson said.

She said Titus was especially angry at the discovery.

"Very, very pissed," Pierson said, adding that Titus said, "There is three things that you don't mess with. That's friends, family and his money."

Pierson said Ryan told her that during a confrontation with James, she had taken a Taser gun away from James, then used it on James.

"It, I guess, stunned her in the back of her neck, but she (Ryan) didn't have it up high enough, so it just kind of got her attention," Pierson told the grand jury.

"And Kelly tried to do it again, and she, I guess she didn't have the voltage up high enough, so she yelled for Craig, and Craig came upstairs, picked Melissa up, brought her downstairs into the living room and supposedly body slammed her (James) and started beating her up," Pierson testified.

Ryan told Pierson that after the beating, James "took a Xanax" and went to bed, Pierson said.

"While she was sleeping, Kelly went into her room and punched her in the face," Pierson said.

"She (Ryan) said that she punched her a couple of times, she showed me the marks on her knuckles from it, and she said that ... Craig was holding her down and told Kelly to get the morphine and she shot a whole needle of morphine into her leg," Pierson said. "She said she was very resilient because it didn't do anything to her."

Later that evening, Titus demonstrated to Pierson "how you can strangle somebody," and then he demonstrated a chokehold for Pierson.

"He did it on me, and you instantly stop breathing," Pierson said. "It scared me the way that he motioned, the way that he showed it on me.

"Craig just walked in and started talking about it and, that's how, he started talking more about how he said that he killed Melissa," Pierson said.

"He said that he was joking around, but that is how he had killed Melissa, by strangling her," Pierson said.

"I mean, he was laughing, so I really did not believe he was serious," she said.

Pierson said that Titus then mentioned James' body was in his wife's car and that Titus said he was going to drive the vehicle to Red Rock, "scatter clothes around the car and set it on fire and make it look like a rape."

Pierson's testified before the grand jury earlier this month, and the grand jury wound up indicting Ryan and Titus on charges of murder and arson in the death of James.

Twenty-three-year-old Anthony Gross is charged with being an accessory to the killing and with arson.

Authorities allege Titus and Ryan killed James, then burned her body in Ryan's Jaguar off state Route 160 in the desert outside of Las Vegas. The burning car was discovered Dec. 14.

Pierson said when she and her husband left the home of Titus and Ryan the night of Dec. 13, Titus gave the couple a gym bag.

"We said our goodbyes, and there was a gym bag next to my purse," Pierson said. "I grabbed my purse, walked out and Craig said, 'Hey, wait, you forgot this,' and I said 'What is this?'"

"He said, 'Oh, don't worry about it, I talked to Jeremy about it; he said it was OK to have it at your house for a couple of weeks,' " Pierson said.

"He said that he knew the police were going to be coming to his house the next day, and he acted like he just didn't want whatever was in the bag in the house while the police were there," Pierson said.

The following day, she said, she looked in the gym bag and saw "a Taser gun, a stun gun, a gym rope, and something else for one of the Taser guns or stun gun," Pierson said.

Pierson said she turned the items over to police, and according to grand jury transcripts, authorities found other physical evidence that corroborated Pierson's account.

An analysis of the Taser gun indicated it had been fired multiple times on the day James was slain, and Las Vegas police crime scene analysts found remnants from the discharge of a Taser gun inside Titus and Ryan's home.

Also, a medical examiner told the grand jury that James had a high level of morphine in her body at the time of her death.

When questioned by a prosecutor in front of the grand jury, Pierson admitted she did not tell police what she knew when first questioned by police because "at first I was protecting Kelly."

It was all "very upsetting," Pierson said. "It's very depressing. ... I thought I knew her better than this."

Pierson said she was frightened by Titus. Nevertheless, she agreed to meet with Titus and Ryan a few days after Dec. 13 at an acquaintance's house.

"Kelly was playing dumb, saying that 'they (police) think we did it,' and Craig said that they were going to go to Greece," Pierson said. "He said, 'It's no big deal. Kelly is going to continue to compete there, everything will be fine,' and he said he only needed two witnesses to say that she (James) was overdosed in the front seat of the car and that they'd get off."

Ryan's attorney, Tom Pitaro, declined to comment on the grand jury transcripts Tuesday because he had not read them yet.

Titus' defense attorney, Richard Schonfeld, declined to comment on the specifics of the transcripts, but he said the veracity of the evidence is expected to be challenged in District Court. He previously said that Titus' accusers have significant credibility problems.

Authorities allege that Titus and Ryan first told police they did not know what happened to James. They later said they found her dead of a drug overdose, then panicked and burned her body.

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