Scare actor pleads guilty to stabbing, mutilating close friend

Posted at 2:53 PM, June 20, 2024

ROME, Ga. (Court TV) — A haunted house scare actor is facing life in prison for maliciously killing a friend he’d known since high school, who stayed with him on his way to Alabama to visit his girlfriend.

Brandon Christopher Risner, 23, pleaded guilty to stabbing and disemboweling his long-time friend, Aaron William Davis, 21, on or between Nov. 11-12, 2022.

MORE | Scare actor sentenced for savagely killing his best friend

Brandon Risner

Brandon Risner (Floyd County Jail)

Davis and Risner were close friends. They went to the same high school and attended the same church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Cumming, Georgia. Davis and Risner even picked the same college, though Risner only attended BYU-Idaho for a semester in the fall of 2021. Davis graduated from the university with a degree in political science in July 2022, Deseret News reported.

Months later, on Nov. 11, 2022, Davis stayed overnight with Risner on his way to Alabama to visit his girlfriend. When Davis didn’t arrive at his destination, Davis’ family contacted the police in Rome.

The following day, authorities discovered Davis’ abandoned blue Toyota Prius in a ditch behind a levee at a local park, which led them to Risner’s home on Collinwood Road.

At his June 20 plea hearing at Floyd County Courthouse, Assistant District Attorney Attorney Leah Mayo stated some of the key facts from the case. She said Risner had assaulted Davis with a blade-like object multiple times to the head, chest, torso and extremities, causing disfigurement and, ultimately, Davis’ death. Afterward, when attempting to hide the body, Mayo said Risner lost a piece of the victim’s small intestine, which was never recovered.

“He (Risner) removed the body of said person (Davis) from one location off Collinwood Road to another off of Tumlin Drive where he buried said person in an unmarked grave,” a criminal indictment says.

Once the body was removed, the prosecutor said Risner went to Walmart to purchase cleaning supplies to clean blood stains from a mattress, carpet and rug in the Collinwood home, as well as blood splatter from the ceiling of an upstairs bedroom.

Risner then attempted to submerge Davis’ car into a creek behind the levee in Heritage Park, about 2.5 miles from the Collinwood home, according to the prosecution.

Investigators later found Davis’ body under 6-to-12 inches of dirt in a 6-to-8-foot hole left by a large uprooted tree, according to police reports.

Court documents show the night before Davis was killed, he went to a bar with Risner and “became inebriated after consuming high BAC content beers the defendant ordered for him.” They returned to Risner’s house, and Davis slept in the upstairs guest bedroom.

Brandon Risner agreed to plead guilty to stabbing and dismembering his best friend. (Court TV)

In total, Risner has pled guilty to 12 charges, including malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, concealing the death of another, abandonment of a dead body and theft by taking, as well as misdemeanor removal of body parts from the scene of a death, tampering with evidence and obstruction of an officer.

Risner’s attorney, Jeffrey Heller, requested two mental health evaluations, Rome News-Tribune reported. If he had pled not guilty, his trial would have begun on Monday, June 24.

Randy Davis, Aaron Davis’ father, told 11Alive that Risner was very close to the Davis family. “He’s been as much of a son to us as anyone. It’s really like losing two kids at this point. It just felt like betrayal,” Randy Davis said.

Risner had been pursuing an acting career and worked as a haunted house scare actor in Canton, Georgia, according to his social media pages. Before his arrest, he posted a video of himself singing and playing the guitar.

A judge will determine whether Risner will face life in prison with or without parole at his sentencing hearing on July 18, 2024. Victim impact statements are expected to be heard at that time.