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The Journal Gazette

  • Garrett

Tuesday, October 09, 2018 2:45 pm

Facebook officials could testify in toddler death

Allen County prosecutors are asking officials from Facebook to testify at the trial of a Fort Wayne woman charged in the death of her 2-year-old son in November. 

Documents filed in Allen Superior Court list the social media giant's custodian of records as "a material witness" in the case against Amber V. Garrett, 27. She is charged with two counts of felony neglect in her son's death, and testimony from the Facebook official "is expected to contain material evidence" related to the alleged crimes, documents state. 

Malakai Garrett died Nov. 29, 2017, after being beaten, police have said. He had multiple injuries consistent with being struck with a closed fist, doctors told detectives who investigated the child's death. 

A four-day trial is scheduled to start Nov. 27, and documents filed last week show Facebook's record-keeper could testify on the first day "or as soon thereafter as he/she can be called." 

An order signed Oct. 4 by Judge Fran Gull states the testimony is required for one day. 

The documents do not identify the evidence the Facebook official is expected to address, but social media already has played a key role in at least one part of the case. Defense attorneys this year sought to move Garrett's trial from Allen County, citing news coverage and angry comments from Facebook users. 

Gull denied the request in June. 

Garrett was charged with neglect in November, and Mitchell Vanryn, 28, is charged with murder in the boy's death. Vanryn allegedly was taking care of Malakai when he was killed, according to court documents. 

For more on this story, see Wednesday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to after 1 a.m. Wednesday.