Trial in toddler’s death starts today

March 19, 2019

The trial of a Fort Wayne man accused of killing a 2-year-old boy in 2017 is scheduled to get underway today in Allen Superior Court.

Mitchell Vanryn, 28, is charged with murder, aggravated battery and domestic battery in the death of Malakai Garrett : the son of his girlfriend. Doctors told investigators the boy had been beaten and had injuries consistent with strikes from a closed fist.

Vanryn was home with the boy Nov. 29, 2017, when he was rushed from a home on Palmetta Court to a nearby fire station and then to the hospital.

Malakai died a few hours later, and Indiana Department of Child Services documents obtained last year by The Journal Gazette state he had been abused.

The trial is expected to last four days, and Vanryn faces up to 135 years in prison if he is convicted on each of the charges.

The toddler’s mother, Amber Garrett, 27, is also charged in the death. She faces two felony neglect charges, and a five-day trial is scheduled to begin June 24.

Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull granted Garrett’s request to have her case heard by out-of-county jurors because of pretrial publicity. Gull denied the same request from Vanryn, and his case will be heard by an Allen County jury.

Malakai had bruises all over his body when he was examined at the hospital, according to court documents. Garrett said at the time that her son had not been feeling well the night before and had bruising on his face from falling, the documents state.

An emergency room doctor told investigators the bruises were at least two to three days old, a probable cause affidavit alleges.