Hearing in infant’s death closed to public
R-C Staff Writers
A motions hearing for Trent Getty was closed to the public and the press on Wednesday morning at the request of his attorneys.
Judge Tod Young granted the motion to exclude the public and the press, though he said that some portions of the hearings could be open.
Maria Pence and Jamie Henry are representing Getty, who has been in custody for more than a year, in the death of his 2-month old daughter Ava.
“The court’s aware of the public’s interest in this case,” Young said.
He said that the U.S. Supreme Court and the Nevada Supreme Court have agreed that the right for a defendant to receive a fair trial is paramount.
The Record-Courier entered an objection to the motion on Wednesday afternoon.
The trial will be open to the public, Young said.
A three-day motions hearing includes arguments on the introduction of photographs, recordings made by investigators and suppression of some evidence.
Young sealed the case file and excluded the press from a hearing on recordings related to the case, which would include Getty’s statements to detectives.
Pence opposed introduction of a bed into the courtroom, that Deputy District Attorney Erik Levin said might be used as a demonstration of how Ava could have struck her head on the bedpost.
Levin told Young that he knew he would have to lay a foundation to get the bed and the swing before the jury.
Pence’s objection was due to the fact that the bed had been released as evidence and was at a neighbor’s house, before it was taken back for use.
“That bed can’t ever be put back the way it was,” she said.
Levin is representing the state and will be prosecutor in the trial scheduled for later this year.
Pence has opposed having the public at hearings from the start of proceedings, including the preliminary hearing, where she challenged the press and public from attending.
East Fork Justice of the Peace Tom Perkins overruled that objection.
Getty brought his unresponsive daughter, Ava, to Carson Valley Medical Center around 2:15 a.m. Jan. 7, 2015, with unknown injuries.
According to Douglas County investigators, Getty left the center before doctors found out what happened to the child.
A short time later, Getty was contacted by Carson City authorities and agreed to return to Minden, where he was questioned by Douglas County investigators.
He told investigators that he picked up Ava from her grandmother’s home at around 7 p.m. Jan. 6, he put her in her swing, gave her a bottle, and then fell asleep on the couch.
He woke to find her swing tipped over and Ava lying on the floor.
He was released that morning, before investigators learned that Ava might have been the victim of a blow to the head. She was taken off life support a few days later.
A warrant was issued for Getty, and he was taken into custody on Jan. 10 in Sacramento.
Washoe County Coroner Dr. Ellen Clark testified during the preliminary hearing that Ava’s death was due to a blunt force trauma to the head.
“It is in my opinion that Ava’s injuries and aggravated injuries happened at the hand of another individual,” Clark testified. “Because of Ava’s age and the number of injuries she did have.”
Pence questioned Clark’s conclusion based on Ava’s two-day long period on life support. She explained that injuries Clark used in determining her conclusion could have been a result of those life-sustaining measures.
Clark testified injuries discovered while Ava was being treated in Renown’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, were characteristic of a blow to the back of Ava’s head.
However, she was unable to determine what caused the blow to the back of the infant’s head, something Pence said could have happened due to Ava falling from her swing.
Pence introduced precedents from several similar preliminary hearings, explaining that the state would have to not only prove that there was in fact a crime committed, but that it was not an accident.
Ava’s mother left the child with Getty more than a month before the incident.
Child Protective Services had been monitoring Getty since Ava tested positive for opiates at birth.