CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - After five days of testimony, the jurors and court witnesses heard closing arguments from the prosecution and defense attorneys for Sierra Day and Deonte Lewis in Aniya Day-Garrett’s murder case.
Closing arguments concluded at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The jury was sent off to reach a verdict shortly before 3:30 p.m., and deliberations will resume Thursday morning.
Both sides rested their case as Wednesday morning’s testimony and cross examination of Cuyahoga County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Joseph Felo concluded.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutors argued that Dr. Felo’s testimony proved that somebody hit the 4-year-old girl. The stroke that Aniya suffered was a result of the “blunt force trauma,” said one prosecutor.
They also argued that Day and Lewis did not seek medical attention for her injuries until they made a call to 911 on March 11, the day she was pronounced dead.
A prosecutor also made a case that every time a family member, friend, or caregiver tried to help Aniya, Day would prevent them from doing so. She was called a “master manipulator" by assistant prosecutor Anna Faraglia.
- When workers at Harbor Crest Child Care Academy observed Aniya’s injuries and brought her to the hospital, Day removed her from that day care.
- Aniya’s biological father Mickhal Garrett, who testified and was in court to hear closing arguments, filed a police report in September 2017 alleging that Day abused the 4-year-old girl. Day then filed a protection order against Garrett, which prevented him from seeing his daughter again between then and the time she died.
- Erica Johnson, Day’s sister, said during testimony that she urged the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services to remove Aniya from the home because she noticed changes in both Aniya and Day. Johnson said after that, she was not allowed to see Aniya.
- The prosecutor said there was a home visit scheduled with a Cuyahoga County caseworker and Day on March 12. Aniya was pronounced dead a day before the scheduled appointment.
In relation to the charges, the prosecutor argued that there is enough evidence of murder and felonious assault because of the serious physical harm caused to Aniya.
The two knowingly permitted child abuse because of the signs of physical harm and neglect from Day and Lewis, who was acting as a guardian, said the prosecutor. Anyone who had contact with Aniya should have known that medical treatment was needed.
“Sierra Day failed miserably in the care for her own child,” Faraglia said.
Testimony from police and paramedics who responded to the scene on March 11, 2018 said the apartment appeared scrubbed and smelled of bleach and cleaning supplies, the prosecutor argued in regards to the tampering with evidence charge.
Thomas Shaughnessy, the attorney for Day, opened his closing arguments by asking the jurors to set their emotions aside and listen to the facts of the case.
Shaughnessy, along with Lewis’ defense attorney, argued that even Dr. Felo could not pinpoint what type of injury Aniya could have suffered that would have resulted in her fatal stroke. Shaughnessy said her head trauma could have been caused by physical abuse, but it could have also been sustained from an innocent incident such as a fall at a playground.
Jury deliberations will resume again at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Cleveland 19 is streaming gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial on our digital platforms until a verdict is delivered.