The Journal Gazette
Thursday, October 01, 2020 12:26 pm

Appeals court upholds 40-year sentence in child's death

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction and 40-year prison sentence of a Fort Wayne man who beat his girlfriend's 2-year-old son to death.

Mitchell Vanryn, 30, beat Malakai Garrett – hitting the boy so hard, his internal organs were "shredded," a doctor said – in 2017. Jurors last year convicted Vanryn of aggravated battery and domestic battery but acquitted him of murder.

Vanryn maintained he did not intentionally kill the child, and a judge ordered him to spend 40 years in prison.

He appealed, arguing several things including the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence and giving instructions to jurors. Vanryn also argued there is insufficient evidence to support the aggravated battery conviction and the sentence is inappropriate "in light of the nature of the offenses and the character of the offender," court documents say.

The appeals court rejected each argument in a 25-page opinion Wednesday.

"We agree with the trial court's characterization of Vanryn as 'a powder keg likely to go off,'" the ruliing says. "Based on the nature of the offense and his character, Vanryn has failed to persuade this court that his aggregate 40-year sentence is inappropriate."

Vanryn is being held at the Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill.

Malakai's mother – Amber Garrett, 29 – pleaded guilty to two counts of felony neglect and was sentenced in 2019 to four years in prison. She is being held at the Rockville Correctional Facility.

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