BREAKING NEWS: Family members say the jury has returned a verdict. The jury has found Mitch Vanryn not guilty of murder, guilty of aggravated battery and guilty of domestic battery.
We are working to gather reaction from family members and friends. We’ll have the full story on Fort Wayne’s NBC News at 11.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – The child abuse case that has shaken the community for more than a year went to the jury Thursday.
Prosecutors say 28-year-old Mitch Vanryn beat 2-year-old Malakai Garrett to death in November of 2017, leaving bruises all over his body and an abdomen full of blood from a lacerated pancreas.
Jurors and other people in the courtroom were visibly shaken when they saw photos of the toddler’s body.
Just before 4 p.m. Thursday, the judge began reading instructions to the jury to follow as they deliberate whether Vanryn is guilty.
During court on Wednesday, a detective read texts from Vanryn who babysat for Malakai every day and lived with Malakai’s mother, Amber Garrett.
The graphic texts depicted a man beyond frustrated that the toddler wasn’t potty trained and kept soiling his diapers, forcing Vanryn to repeatedly bathe him and wash clothes and sheets.
Prosecutors called other witnesses to the stand to try to establish Vanryn was the only one home with Malakai before he died.
Malakai Garrett’s mother, Amber Garrett, is scheduled to be tried for two felony counts of neglect of a dependent in June.
A jury will be brought in from another part of the state for that trial.