Prosecution pushes for death penalty in missing Sullivan University student case

Sporting a shaved head, Gregory O'Bryan is escorted into court on Friday, November 19, 2010.
Sporting a shaved head, Gregory O'Bryan is escorted into court on Friday, November 19, 2010.

Louisville, KY - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - While the search continues in a southern Indiana landfill for the ninth day for the body of a missing Sullivan University student, WAVE 3 has learned that the man indicted for his murder could get the death penalty.

Investigators believe that 40-year-old Gregory O'Bryan met 18-year-old Andrew Compton online and that Compton died after they were intimate.

But the abuse apparently continued after Compton died, according to court documents.

"Mr. O'Bryan was indicted by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on 7 counts. He was arraigned today on those counts," said Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Thomas Van De Rostyne.

That list includes one count of murder, sodomy, three counts of abuse of a corpse, and two counts of tampering with physical evidence.

O'Bryan's public defender entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf; but in addition to the indictment, the prosecution has also filed a "notice of aggravating circumstances" which escalates O'Bryan's possible punishment.

"That makes Mr. O'Bryan eligible for the death penalty and life without the possibility of parole and life without the possibility of parole for 25 years as additional penalties to what would be for a not capital murder case," Van De Rostyne said.

The prosecution wants to treat this as a capital case, and feels strongly they have a firm case... while the search for Andrew Compton's remains continues and enters a ninth day.

"We hope for the Compton family that we're able to retrieve Andrew's body and we're trying to do that," Van De Rostyne said.

When asked if it made it more difficult to prosecute the case since Andrew's body hasn't been found, a confident Van De Rostyne said, "we've indicted the case, we're going to proceed."

The prosecution won't comment on the specific evidence it has against O'Bryan, outside of the gruesome details included in the Grand Jury indictment.

It's another chapter in a tragic three weeks for the Compton family.

"We're keeping so busy that it helps us. I would say a few weeks down the road, when it slows down, it'll probably be rougher for us," Andrew's father, John Compton, said.

John Compton describes his son as a shy teen with a passion for cooking.  The Indianapolis-area native moved to Louisville just a few months ago to attend Sullivan University.

"We would call him and he would say he couldn't talk because he's in a friend's room playing a card game or he's got 11 people in his dorm," John Compton remembered.

Now the family is hoping for a call that searchers have found their son's body in the Medora, Indiana landfill -- which is where investigators believe he ended up after O'Bryan said he dumped Compton in a dumpster.

"We're doing as well as you might expect," John Compton told WAVE 3 News.

The prosecution's main aggravating factor is the belief that O'Bryan had sex without consent when Compton was physically helpless.

O'Bryan remains in jail on a $1 million bond.  All sides are due back in court on December 2, at which time the prosecution will likely file its discovery.

The benefit concert will be held on December 4th at 8 p.m. at Uncle Pleasant's, at 2126 S. Preston Street in Louisville.

For more information, call (502) 650-7410 or (502) 554-1800. The flyer indicates there is a $5 donation.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the "Andrew Compton Memorial Fund" can do so at any PNC bank or by visiting

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