EUCLID, Ohio -- A father is still searching for justice, one year after his four-year-old daughter died at the hands of her own mother. The family of Aniya Day-Garrett spent the somber anniversary celebrating her life and demanding change.
“Aniya was only four years old when her precious life was taken one year ago today, March 11th, 2018," her father, Mickhal Garrett, said.
He spent the first anniversary of his daughter's death surrounded by family, friends and supporters. They held a memorial Monday evening in front of the Cultural Garden apartment complex on Lakeshore Boulevard in Euclid, where Aniya lived with her mother and where prosecutors say the little girl was neglected, abused and murdered.
"Each and every time she had a chance, she told social workers; she told daycare workers and she told the hospital and she even told police 'mommy hit me,'" he said.
Thursday, Aniya's mother, 24-year-old Sierra Day; and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Deonte Lewis, were convicted of aggravated murder in the little girl's death. Her father, who tried to get custody of Aniya after suspecting she was being abused, says the system failed her.
"We're fighting to have laws changed; we're fighting to have the Aniya law in place to help protect children all around the world, starting right here in Cuyahoga County," said Aniya’s father.
Mickhal Garrett honored his daughter's young life surrounded by mementos and pictures of the times they shared together.
"There's a picture in the front here of me holding Aniya and she has this very dress on here, with these same shoes. Aniya loved this dress,” he said, holding up the clothing in a frame.
Garrett says holding his daughter's ashes allows him to keep her close by and reminds him that her death will not be in vain.
"I am so thankful; I love you so much, Aniya," he said, clutching the container.
Mickhal Garrett says he is pleased with last Thursday’s guilty verdict and he is happy with the changes being implemented by the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. Although, he and his attorneys are still trying to find out what went wrong and hold others accountable for Aniya’s death.
Sierra Day and Deonte Lewis will be sentenced on March 20.