CLEVELAND — Four-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett died a slow death as her body withered away, according to testimony from Cuyahoga County Deputy Medical Examiner Joseph Felo on the fourth day her mother’s murder trial.
Aniya’s mother Sierra Day and her mother’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, are both being tried simultaneously on murder charges stemming from Aniya’s death in March 2018.
Felo testified that Aniya’s death ultimately occurred over time after her body finally gave out. Her death was ruled a homicide. Felo determined that the girl died from a stroke caused by a blunt force injury to the head. He estimated the head injury occurred at a minimum of around 10 days to two weeks before her death.
“She didn’t receive the injury and die, she lingered for a while,” Felo said. He testified that Aniya’s body slowly withered away as her organs revolted against her.
During an initial examination at the medical examiner’s office, Felo says he found her to be “very, very thin” and “extremely malnourished.” At just over 3 feet tall, Aniya weighed 26 pounds, he said. To put things in perspective for the jury, Felo told them that 97 percent of other children around her height weighed much more. Due to the malnourishment, her skin was loose from the loss of fat and muscle tissue underneath. Aniya’s body mass index was around 11. Children her size typically have a body mass index of approximately 18, Felo said.
Additionally, the deputy medical examiner said Aniya had a black eye, blisters, signs of bed sores and her lungs had been collapsing. She also suffered from pancreatitis from the lack of food and had stomach ulcers.
In a specific line of questioning, prosecutors asked Felo if Aniya’s bed sores could have been caused by “lying in a bed full of urine” and “marinating in it,” a question that he confirmed.
According to Felo, Aniya suffered from chronic physical abuse and neglect.
Jurors were visibly shaken by Felo's testimony, with several crying when they saw the autopsy pictures presented by the medical examiner.
Previously, News 5 reported injuries documented by Aniya’s daycare show a pattern of abuse going back to 2015 before her death on March 11, 2018.
On that Sunday, authorities were called to an apartment at the Cultural Garden Apartments in Euclid. Upon arriving, first responders found the girl unresponsive. Aniya was transported to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.
At the hospital, police noticed abuse to Aniya. She had a swollen black mark on her left eye with a laceration, causing her eye to be completely swollen shut, according to a police report.
Several burn marks were on her right ankle that appeared to have blistered, popped open and dried, according to authorities. Aniya’s arms and legs were "very thin, and you could see every bone in her ribs." It appeared she had been deceased "for some time," and her skin was cold to the touch.
Testimony will continue Wednesday.