Frisco man found guilty of capital murder in toddler’s death
Original Article by, Dallas Morning News on June 10, 2014)
Updated at 5:49 p.m.: District Judge John R. Roach Jr. sentenced Scott Garrett to life in prison without the possibility of parole after jurors convicted him of capital murder.
Roach told Garrett that he had an opportunity to provide a better life for the twins that they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Instead, the judge said, Garrett gave all adoptions a bad name.
“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Roach said. “I hope you rot in hell.”
Updated at 4:15 p.m.: The jury of seven men and five women have found Scott Garrett of Frisco guilty of capital murder. There is a break in the proceedings, which will be followed by formal sentencing and a victim impact statement via video from Logan’s sister.
Garrett showed no reaction to the jury verdict.
Updated at 4 p.m. The bailiff has just announced that the jury has reached a verdict after about two and a half hours of deliberation. People are starting to gather in the courtroom to hear what they decided.
Updated at 3 p.m.: Jurors began deliberating just after 1:30 p.m. in the case involving a Frisco toddler who died in October 2011.
Twenty-two-month-old Logan Garrett’s death was ruled a homicide by blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
His adopted father, Scott Garrett, stands charged with capital murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if he’s convicted. But jurors have the option to choose from among seven other lesser offenses, including injury to a child, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. Jurors may also find him not guilty.
Garrett and his wife, Emily, took custody of Logan and his twin sister, Olivia, in March 2011, and their adoption was finalized on Sept. 30, 2011.
Prosecutor Daniel Lewis said during closing arguments that Logan’s death was no accident. “He did nothing to deserve to die at the hands of the defendant,” Lewis said.
He addressed the numerous witnesses for the defense who testified that Garrett was a good husband, a kind man and an even-keeled father who would never hurt his children. “You don’t snap when there’s company over,” Lewis said. “You don’t snap in front of your in-laws. You snap when you’re alone, when no one is watching.”
Garrett’s wife was out of town on business on Oct. 11, 2011, when Garrett rushed Logan to the home of a neighbor, who was a doctor. The boy was moaning. His eyes were rolling into the back of his head, and he couldn’t sit up on his own. They decided to call 911. Garrett told the dispatcher that he’d been wrestling on the bed with Logan and knocked the breath out of him a couple times. Logan was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where he died in less than 30 minutes.
Lewis reviewed for jurors the injuries that caregivers had seen on Logan and Olivia in the six months that they had been with the Garretts: the black eyes, the genital bruising, the laceration on Logan’s scalp. No one reported them to authorities, testimony at trial showed, because the Garretts always had a reasonable explanation. Lewis also pointed out the findings of Olivia’s medical exam after her twin’s death: a healing foot fracture, traumatic hair loss and weight loss with a failure to thrive.
Defense attorneys Bill Schultz and David Haynes told jurors that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove what happened, nothing to show that Garrett set out to murder his son that day.
“The evidence doesn’t show Mr. Garrett to be the kind of guy to intentionally kill a child,” Schultz told jurors.
Schultz pointed to questions raised with the lead Frisco detective, Scott Greer, who resigned after inappropriate conduct in other cases. He was called by the defense to discuss steps he took in the Garrett investigation. Schultz questioned Greer’s meetings outside of the police department with one of the female witnesses and whether he had any influence on her second written statement, which was more negative about Garrett. Debi Nelson testified that she decided to change her statement before she met Greer.
Schultz also pointed to video recordings of four interviews done at the Frisco Police Department that Greer and his partner did not preserve as evidence. One was an interview with the Garretts. The other three were with caregivers for the twins. The women all testified at trial, but those videos may have answered some questions that the witnesses couldn’t, he said. “We don’t have all the evidence because the police lost it,” Schultz said.
Haynes reminded jurors of a rare benign tumor in Logan’s abdomen that went undetected until after his death. He suggested it may have started to bleed hours or days earlier but didn’t become acute until that night with his father. The defense’s medical expert said the tumor didn’t cause Logan’s death, though. David Posey testified that his review of the medical records showed that Logan died of respiratory arrest caused by aspiration.
“The cause of death is doubtful in this case,” Haynes told jurors. He said there was no evidence that Garrett stomped or punched or kicked his child. There was no evidence that he used an instrument as a deadly weapon, Haynes said.
“A true verdict in this case according to the law and the evidence is not guilty, and I am begging you for that verdict,” Haynes told jurors.
Jurors saw a brief video of Logan laughing and smiling in his car seat moments before his caregiver dropped him off at the Garretts’ home the night he died.
Prosecutor Crystal Levonius called Logan a brave little man. “In his death he did something no grownup did,” she said. “He saved his sister.”
Original: The woman who helped with a private adoption for a Frisco couple testified Thursday that she thought the 1-year-old twins would have a much better life with them.
Instead, 22-month-old Logan Garrett ended up dead. His sister, Olivia, has since been adopted by another family. And their adopted father, Scott Garrett, 43, is on trial facing a capital murder charge in Logan’s death. He has pleaded not guilty.
Both sides in the case have rested. Attorneys are finalizing the charge, which gives jurors the instructions on what to consider when deliberating. Closing arguments are expected to start shortly.
Janice Auch Krause, an executive pastor at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, said she had known the twins’ mother, Angela Ozuna, for 30 years. They first met in 1984 when Ozuna was living at an orphanage in Fort Worth. Krause joined the Big Sister program and met regularly with Ozuna. By early 2011, Ozuna had turned to Krause for help caring for her youngest son and daughter.
“She was not in a situation to have kids,” Krause testified. “She was on the run. She wanted money. She always wanted her kids, but she continues not to care for them.”
Ozuna has a history of drug use and had been investigated numerous times by Child Protective Services for neglecting her children. She is currently serving time in state prison for violating parole on a drug possession charge.
Scott and Emily Garrett learned about the twins needing a new home through St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, where they were members. They stepped up to adopt the twins, whom they named Logan and Olivia.
The adoption was finalized on Sept. 30, 2011. On Oct. 11, 2011, Scott Garrett rushed to a neighbor’s house for help because Logan had been injured. Garrett said he had been rough-housing with the boy and wrestling with him on the bed when he started moaning. He said Logan’s eyes had rolled to the back of his head. He called 911 from the neighbor’s house, and Logan was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where he died.
When asked whether Krause regretted taking the twins and giving them to the Garretts, Krause testified: “I absolutely do.”
Collin County medical examiner William Rohr ruled Logan’s death a homicide and said the toddler died of blunt force injury to the abdomen.
David Posey, a medical expert hired by the defense, testified there was no evidence of blunt force injury. He said he believed Logan died of respiratory arrest caused by aspiration.
Also testifying Thursday was the investigator with Child Protective Services assigned to Logan and Olivia’s case after Logan’s death. Francis Lawson testified that his findings were that there was reason to believe for physical abuse and neglectful supervision of the twins.
Several witnesses reported the children having black eyes and genital bruising on several occasions. After Logan’s death, a doctor who examined Olivia said she had a healing food fracture, traumatic hair loss and weight loss.