JAVA reacts to not guilty verdict in child murder case

Mitchell Vanryn was found guilty of domestic battery and aggravated battery in the baby's death, but was acquitted of murder.

Posted: Mar 24, 2019 7:05 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2019 8:44 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Following Mitchell Vanryn being found not guilty of the murder of 2-year-old Malakai Garrett back in November of 2017, JAVA is hoping the family can still get justice. 

Vanryn was found guilty of domestic battery and aggravated battery in the baby's death. 

Stacey Davis with JAVA said she sat through the trial with Malakai's family. 

"We heard some horrific testimony. We saw some, just absolutely disgusting pictures of what was done to poor Malakai's body," she said. 

Malakai's injuries were reportedly consistent with a fall from a three-story building. In court, Vanryn apparently said they were likely from CPR. 

"The forensic pathologist had already testified that those injuries could not have been sustained from doing CPR, and also that CPR is not done on the abdomen. It's done on the chest," Davis said. 

Davis said she isn't sure why the jury found him not guilty of the murder charge, but believes it could be from a lack of intent. 

"Mitch didn't at any time say he was going to kill the baby, however, based on his actions and the amount of force that he had to of put on that baby's abdomen, he should have known he could kill that baby," she said. 

After the trial, a post circulating on social media had Theresa Juillerat outraged. It was posted on the Facebook page of the law firm that represented Vanryn, and said Randy Hammond had just earned his second not guilty verdict in six months.

It went on to encourage anyone with serious charges to call them. 

"What I was reading was a law firm that was kind of trying to advertise to bring clientele into their business, their office, but the timing was wrong," Juillerat said. 

Friday evening, Hammond released the following statement: 

The post was made by a staff member without approval. It does not reflect the views of the law office on this particular verdict. The staff member has been reprimanded and is no longer allowed to post. Our office apologizes for any offense taken by the unapproved comment.

If Vanryn is given the maximum sentence for the battery charges he faces, he could get 70 years. Davis said that's one way this family can still get justice. 

"And that's what we're asking your honor, Judge Fran Gull to do. Please, give him the max on both charges and run them consecutively," she said. 

Vanryn will be sentenced May 3rd. Malakai's mother, Amber Garrett, is still facing neglect charges and will face a jury in June. 

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