The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 1:00 am

Report outlines abuse of toddler

Prosecutors say mom knew what happened

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A toddler killed in November endured abuse that included beatings, chemical burns and “abrasions on his corneas” for weeks before he died, according to court documents filed Monday.

The documents detail an alleged pattern of abuse of 2-year-old Malakai Garrett, the boy's mother, Amber Garrett, 26, and the family dog by Mitchell Vanryn, 28. Garrett also was threatened and struck by Vanryn and knew about the abuse of the boy, according to the documents.

Vanryn is charged with murder in Malakai's death, and Garrett faces two counts of felony neglect.

Prosecutors will ask an Allen County judge to allow evidence of prior bad acts against Garrett because the evidence is relevant to her “motive, knowledge and intent.” A hearing for a judge to consider the evidence is expected to be scheduled today in Allen Superior Court.

Her trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 11.

Documents detail alleged abuse by Vanryn after he moved in with Garrett, Malakai and two other children last year. Much of the evidence is based on text messages between Vanryn and Garrett that had not been made public in earlier court filings.

Texts from June 2017 show Vanryn told Garrett the children would be kept in their rooms all day and only would be let out to eat or use the bathroom, documents allege.

Messages that follow are increasingly violent.

Messages allegedly exchanged in early August include a statement that Malakai “just got the belt pretty good.” Texts from Garrett cited in court documents say Vanryn pulled her hair, kicked her while she was on the ground and struck her with a pool stick.

“In late August 2017, (Malakai) was treated at a local hospital after he was given an Epson (sic) salt bath, resulting in a chemical burn and abrasions on his corneas,” prosecutors allege. “This is also documented in text messages on (Garrett's) phone and medical records that were subsequently obtained.”

The documents do not specify who gave the boy the bath.

Garrett saw Vanryn punch a dog “on more than one occasion” when the animal misbehaved, according to the documents.

The Indiana Department of Child Services was notified Oct. 29 of alleged abuse because of “unexplained bruising and injuries to (Malakai) over the past several months,” the documents state.

Prosecutors said the boy's grandfather told police he confronted Garrett and Vanryn in July or August about bruises on Malakai's buttocks.

Malakai died Nov. 29 after being beaten, according to a probable cause affidavit. Doctors told investigators he had multiple injuries consistent with being struck with a closed fist.

Vanryn, who was taking care of the child at the time, was charged in December with murder. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 23.

Garrett was formally charged in January.

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