FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – A Facebook post capitalized on a not guilty verdict in the 2-year-old Malakai Garrett’s murder trial. The post aimed to attract new clients to the defense attorney’s private practice.
Allen County’s Chief Public Defender Randy Hammond represented Mitch Vanryn in trial. After the jury announced the verdict, his private law firm, Leonard, Hammond, Thoma & Terrill made the following post on Facebook:
“Attorney Randy Hammond earned a NOT GUILTY verdict in the murder trail against Mitchell Vanryn! While Mr. Vanryn was convicted of a lesser charge, Mr. Hammond successfully convinced the jury that Vanryn did not intend to kill. This is the second NOT GUILTY verdict in a murder trial that the LHTT law firm has earned in 6 months! If you are facing serious criminal charges, give our office a call right away.”
Family members of Malakai Garrett said they discovered the Facebook post made by a defense attorney’s private law firm shortly after the jury announced the verdict.
“They had no respect for this little baby that was destroyed,” Margaret Easterly, great-grandmother of Malakai Garrett said.
The post quickly sparked outrage on social media.
The law firm’s Facebook page along with the post has since been deleted.
We reached out to Randy Hammond for an interview, however, he turned down our request.
Instead, Hammond sent the following statement:
“After the Mitchell Vanryn verdict, a Facebook post was made by an office staff member. This post was not authorized or approved by Attorney Randall Hammond in advance and was made without his knowledge at the time it was posted. The statement does not reflect the view of the law office. This post has been removed. We apologize for any offense taken by this inappropriate comment made without permission or approval of the law office.”
Family members said the post was unacceptable whether it was approved or not.
“What kind of person in their right mind would post something like that,” Easterly said. “I don’t care who it was on his staff.”