RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Just over three years since she disappeared, Monica Moynan’s killer has been found guilty. Brian Sluss was convicted of first-degree murder involving domestic violence on Thursday.
Sluss’ sentencing was given immediately after his guilty verdict was handed down. Her family was given the opportunity to share with the judge how much her death has impacted them.
Moynan’s mother, Melanie Tucker shared emotional testimony with the judge saying, “[Sluss] is a disgusting monster. He deserves the worst punishment possible.”
Tucker has custody of the two daughters Moynan shared with Sluss. Rather than being a grandparent, she and Moynan’s stepfather are in the role of parenting again.
“Moni was my daughter first and always. And when she grew up, Moni was also my friend,” Tucker cried.
Over the last few weeks, the jury heard from 53 witnesses and saw more than 200 pieces of evidence.
Sluss’ defense argued that while he had been violent with Moynan in the past, he did not kill her and does not know where she is.
“Regardless of how upsetting or riotous it may have been, he was the constant person she called on when she needed help,” defense attorney Tommy Manning said during the closing argument.
He argued that Moynan left her children and life on her own accord and that she could be alive somewhere.
“When you weed out opinion and you weed out bias, and you just look at the evidence, this is not anywhere near an open and shut case,” Manning said in court.
Ultimately, the jury sided with the prosecution’s argument that Sluss murdered Moynan and tried to keep it a secret. Investigators found blood belonging to Moynan had seeped through kitchen tiles in the home she shared with Sluss.
Detectives believe she fought while he strangled her to death.
Prosecutors said Sluss then posed as Moynan through texts and social media for four months. Tucker called Sluss pretending to be her daughter after her death an “act of evil”.
“He threw her body away like she was trash. Monica wasn’t trash. She was a friend. She was a sister. She was a daughter,” prosecuting attorney Kathryn Pomeroy said during her closing arguments.
When Sluss took the stand in his own defense, he could not give jurors a clear date for the last time he saw Moynan. He claimed it was a few days after Father’s Day 2019.
Sluss claimed Moynan made a dinner for him for the holiday. No one other Sluss, however, claimed to see her after April 7, 2019.
“None of his stories will fit in a calendar. He’s made up so many stories, he can’t fit them in any more,” Pomery said.
“I think there are ways we can increase our ability to protect victims and I hope we can continue to do that,’ Pomeroy said.
Prosecutors believe this is the first time Brittany’s Law has been used to bring a first-degree murder conviction. Passed in 2017, it allows previous domestic violence history to be used as proof of premeditated murder.
In his victim statement, Moynan ‘s stepfather shared the agony he’s faced every day since she vanished.
“It’s the pain of visualizing Moni’s final moments when he was murdering her. It is the feeling her fear her final moments,” said Brandon Tucker.
Moynan’s body has never been found. Investigators have exhausted all leads with no luck. Prosecutors say Sluss is the only person who can lead them to her remains.
“She’s still out there somewhere but not knowing where — it’s the inherent feeling that she, her spirit yearns to be found,” Brandon Tucker said.
In 2020, Jarlyn Sluss, Brian Sluss’ ex-wife was charged with accessory after the fact. She pleaded guilty to helping Brian Sluss pose as Moynan through phone calls and testified against him in the trial.