Jury finds Trent Getty innocent in death of daughter
R-C staff writers
Minden, Nev. — It took less than four hours for a Minden jury to find Trent Lawrence Getty not guilty in the death of his infant daughter Ava.
After 18 months incarcerated on charges of first-degree murder, Getty was free, but not ready to talk about his ordeal.
Defense attorneys Jamie Henry and Maria Pence were in tears after the clerk read the jury’s verdict.
“The jurors looked at every piece of evidence and didn’t just look at Trent’s tattoos,” Pence said. “They watched him over the past three weeks and saw his heart and that he would never hurt Ava.”
Prosecutor Erik Levin of the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office presented the state’s case.
“I felt I did everything I could to prove the charge, but the jury didn’t see it that way,” Levin said after the verdict was read.
The jury, consisting of eight women and four men, entered the courtroom to present their verdict at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
They’d spent the day listening to Pence and Levin offer closing arguments in the trial that began May 11.
Levin spoke first, painting a scene for the jury to consider.
“The defense wants you to focus on the little details and not the big picture,” said Levin. “The big picture is Ava is dead. She didn’t commit suicide, she didn’t die of natural causes.”
Levin went over his witnesses’ testimony, but none of them could say for sure that the death was a result of intended child abuse.
“Willfully doesn’t mean you intend,” said Levin. “There is a reasonable explanation that describes all those injuries and that is child abuse.”
Getty told investigators that he was trying to console Ava by tossing her about a foot in the air, and during one of the throws he accidentally dropped her.
“It wasn’t an accident,” said Levin. “It was a willful act.”
Instead of calling 911, Getty said that he was in a panic and decided to drive Ava to Carson Valley Medical Center himself.
“When accidents happen, people go and look for help,” said Levin.
Getty tried to call the baby’s grandmother Gwyn Douglas several times the night of the accident but he couldn’t get in contact with anyone, he said.
“If you have a single ounce of reasonable doubt you must find him not guilty,” said Pence.
Pence reminded the jury about the fact that Ava was given 10 times the amount of epinephrine that she was supposed to get when she was brought to the hospital.
Dr. Corey Mcleod testified that he learned that the dose Ava was supposed to receive was increased from .625 milliliters to 6.25 milliliters by accident.
Mcleod also testified that when Ava was brought to CVMC she had no visible injuries, bruises, contusions or marks.
Mcleod had to be pressured to say that there was a miscommunication that led to overdosing Ava, he didn’t come out and say it until probed, Pence argued.
“Did he think he would be charged with criminal negligence,” said Pence.
After going over phone records, it showed that Getty called the hospital several times after he left and talked to the doctor about Ava’s condition, Pence said.
He also spoke to officers on several occasions following the incident, and came back to CVMC but then learned Ava was careflighted to Renown, she said.
Ava’s grandmother Gwyn Douglas and great-grandmother Tina Mattingly testified that Getty was a good father and wouldn’t hurt Ava, said Pence.
Once the prosecutor said that Getty might be involved, Douglas turned on Getty, she said.
“She needed someone to blame for the loss of Ava,” said Pence.
Pence argued that the prosecution didn’t thoroughly investigate, they only put pieces together that fit their case.
“The state didn’t want to investigate or preserve the crime scene,” said Pence. “They had already decided that Trent was guilty.”
Pence said that there was missing text messages, the prosecution didn’t run any tests on the needles they found or the vomit in the swing, they only gathered evidence to fit their charge.
“They don’t want to do any investigation because you know what, it might not fit their theory,” said Pence.
Pence pulled apart each of the prosecutions witnesses and said that none of them could say that the death was not an accident.
“Not one of them gave a single piece of evidence on intentional child abuse,” she said.
Pence said that Ava’s injury came from a single incidence, when Getty accidentally dropped her.
“Ava’s entire life history doesn’t support child abuse,” said Pence. “She was a well-cared-for child.”
Pence ended her closing statements by reminding jurors that any reasonable doubt is cause for acquittal.
“He will live for the rest of his life knowing that he dropped his daughter, and that is punishment enough,” said Pence.
Jury instructions called for a finding of guilt or innocence on the first-degree murder charge, instead of a lesser included offense.
After the verdict was read, District Judge Tod Young thanked the jurors for their service.
“You are the very embodiment of justice,” he said.
Several jurors stuck around to talk with attorneys, as supporters congratulated Getty.
Young ordered Getty released as soon as he got his property from the jail.