The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a decades-long sentence for an Allen County man for his role in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son.
Mitchell Vanryn was convicted of Level 1 felony aggravated battery and Level 2 felony domestic battery after a toddler in his care died shortly after arriving at the hospital, where a pediatric critical care physician noted concerns about bruising on the child.
Although Vanryn told investigators that the child had been sleeping and Vanryn was unable to wake him up “by shaking him, slapping him and putting him the shower,” an autopsy revealed that the toddler’s death was a homicide.
A family friend testified hearing the child tell his mother in a video she posted on Facebook the night before he died that Vanryn had hit him in the head. Additionally, the child’s 6-year-old sister testified that her brother had been afraid of Vanryn because every time the child urinated or defected himself, Vanryn had spanked him with a hand, a wooden spoon, or a black belt, leaving bruises.
Vanryn was subsequently charged with murder, Level 1 felony aggravated battery and Level 2 felony domestic battery. The trial court admitted over Vanryn’s objection the Facebook video and refused to give Vanryn’s tendered lesser included offense instruction for reckless homicide.
A jury acquitted him of the murder charge, but the trial court sentenced him to an aggregate 40-years behind bars.
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, finding nothing inappropriate about the length of his sentence. Neither did the trial court abuse its discretion in admitting the Facebook video, the appellate court concluded, or when it refused to give the jury Vanryn’s tendered instruction.
Additionally, the appellate court noted that there was sufficient evidence to support Vanryn’s aggravated battery convicted due to the severity of the injuries inflicted on the child.
The case is Mitchell Vanryn v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-01354.