After almost five years of a post-conviction appeal proceedings, a Normalville man said Tuesday he wanted to drop his appeal and serve his life sentence for killing his 13-year-old cousin and burning her body.
"I'm tired of fighting. It's time to start thinking about them (the family of the victim) and not me," Brian Keith Hays, 28, said to Fayette County Judge Steve P. Leskinen.
Hays was convicted of second-degree murder in the May 3, 2003 death of Danielle Nicole McManus. He gave the teen drugs, sexually assaulted her and then burned her body in a van that was parked in a Bullskin Township junkyard near her home. The fire did not destroy McManus' lower torso, and police were able to link Hays to her death through seminal fluid.
Police theorized that Hays forced a sexual encounter with the teen, possibly killed her there, and then carried her body to the van and set it on fire. Because her body was so badly burned, a pathologist could not determine the cause of her death.
"After nine years of thinking about myself, it's time to think about her family," Hays said.
A family member of McManus', wearing a tshirt with the teen's picture on it, cried as Hays said he was "100 percent sure" he wanted to drop the appeal.
"It's over. Thank God, it's over," the woman said.
For more information, read Wednesday's HeraldStandard.com.