Court upholds man's sentence in beating death

By The Associated Press

FORT WAYNE — The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a Fort Wayne man's conviction and 40-year sentence in the fatal beating of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son.

Mitchell Vanryn, 30, was sentenced last year after an Allen County jury convicted him of aggravated battery and domestic battery but acquitted him of murder in Malakai Garrett's 2017 death.

Vanryn maintained he did not intentionally kill the child, but during his trial a doctor testified that the boy was hit so hard his internal organs were “shredded," The Journal Gazette reported.

In his appeal, Vanryn argued among other things that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence and giving instructions to jurors. He also argued there was insufficient evidence to support the aggravated battery conviction and his sentence was inappropriate “in light of the nature of the offenses and the character of the offender,” according to court documents.

But the appeals court rejected each argument Wednesday in an opinion which said the court agrees “with the trial court’s characterization of Vanryn as ‘a powder keg likely to go off.’”

“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.”

Malakai’s mother – Amber Garrett, 29 – pleaded guilty to two counts of felony neglect and was sentenced in 2019 to four years in prison.

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