CLEVELAND-A Euclid mother and her boyfriend are scheduled to go to trial Wednesday in the death of a four-year-old girl. The case of Aniya Day Garrett sparked changes in the way the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services handles reports of child abuse.
The case against Sierra Day, 24, and Deonte Lewis, 27, will begin with jury selection. Attorneys for Lewis wanted them to have separate trials, but Tuesday, Judge Timothy McCormick ruled that both will be tried together.
Aniya Day Garrett died on March 11 of last year.
Day and Lewis face charges that include aggravated murder, murder and endangering children.
Aniya's father, Mickhal Garrett, said he warned the Department of Children and Family Services that his daughter was being abused the December before she died.
"CFS failed me; they failed us all," he told FOX 8 News last March.
Investigators say Aniya was severely underfed and had burns and bruises all over her body when paramedics removed her body from her mother's apartment on March 11. The medical examiner ruled that she died after suffering serious head trauma.
In the days and weeks after her death, several protests were held, suggesting that the county failed to save the little girl's life, despite receiving several warnings. A state report concluded that Aniya, herself, told social workers twice that her mother abused her. It claims workers never checked up on her mother or took her out of the home. Her death sparked changes in the way Cuyahoga County deals with cases.
It will now be up to a jury to decide what role Aniya's own mother and her boyfriend played in her death.
"I did everything in my power to let them know I was a stand-up dad and that my daughter was being harmed and abused at home and it was an emergency," said Garrett, in a previous interview.
The trial is expected to last about a week. If convicted, both could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.