Judge calls case a 'hot mess,' Andrew Terry trial results in a mistrial

Jury deliberated twice, but could not reach a verdict

By Irisha Jones - Reporter, Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. - The case against Andrew Terry, the Blacksburg man charged with concealing the body of his 3-month-old daughter, ended Thursday in a mistrial.  

After about four hours of deliberating, the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.

The judge told them to go back and continue deliberating.

About 15 minutes later, when the jury returned, they still did not have a unanimous verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

The judge told the attorneys it was up to them about what to do next and that the jurors were dismissed and freed to go.

Andrew Terry walked out of the courthouse a free man.

Here is a statement from Mary Pettitt, Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney:

It was important to pursue justice for Arieanna particularly when there was a confession to the crime. I know Roanoke City will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death. We will evaluate the case and determine if we will retry the defendant. 

 

During closing arguments, the defense argues the state has no proof Terry dumped the baby's body other than the pings from his cell phone that shows him in the area in question. Terry attorney Angi Simpkins also says there is no DNA, blood or even foot prints in the wooded area where they believe she is buried. But the Commonwealth said they have GPS and cell phone tracking evidence to prove Terry stopped for an extended amount of time around the same location where he confessed to burying in the body.


ORIGINAL STORY

Thursday's testimony in the case against a Blacksburg man charged with concealing the body of his 3-month-old daughter was full of inconsistent statements.

Andrew Terry was indicted in January in connection with the disappearance of Arieanna Day on Sept. 11, 2018.

He previously admitted to burying the baby near Jennelle Road after he picked her up bruised and barely alive from her mother's house in Roanoke, according to prosecutors.

After hearing testimony from multiple people Wednesday, testimony continued before closing arguments and deliberations got underway at 2:45 p.m.

Thursday's first witness was an FBI agent who testified that Terry’s car GPS and cellphone show that Terry drove from Roanoke to an area around the Ironto exit of Interstate 81, where authorities suspect the baby’s body was buried.  

GPS data shows that the car moved for three hours before stopping at the scene for roughly six minutes.

The car and cellphone then left the scene and stopped for a couple of minutes at a convenience store before returning to Roanoke.

Immediately after the FBI agent’s testimony, the defense made a motion to strike the evidence.  The judge refused.

After that, Arieanna's mother, Jessica Day, took the stand.

Here are some key takeaways from Day's testimony:

  • When asked if Terry is Arieanna's biological father, she claimed she wasn't sure at first but there had not been a DNA test to confirm either way.
  • Day read a statement she gave to police in August 2019 that said in part, "The baby suffocated as she was being breastfed. She said that she did CPR and then called police; however, Day later confessed that her statement was a lie, saying her memory was suppressed.  
  • At one point, Day called Terry’s lawyer and told her that “Arieanna was safe and well.” Day said that she has not seen or heard from the baby but that this was just something she heard through word of mouth.
  • Before Arieanna's birth, Day testified that she planned to give her up for adoption. Day flew out to Salt Lake City to talk with an adoption agency and stayed out there for a few weeks, but she changed her mind and flew back to Roanoke.
  • At one point, Day believed that someone took her child and she didn't know who else would have done it other than Terry or the adoption agency.
    • She now believes that the adoption agency had nothing to do with it.
  • Day, according to the defense attorney, called Terry within the last few weeks and asked him if she should just wait till court to tell people his cousin took the baby; however, she later changed her statement in later testimony.
  • Day saw Terry at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2018, the day Arieanna went missing. She testified that Terry came back over later that night around 9 p.m. and Arieanna was alive when she gave her to him. Day said Terry did not come inside the home that night.
  • Day thought that he was going to bring Arieanna back, but she could not recall if she remembered asking him that specific question.
  • When she called police at about 11 p.m. that night to report Arieanna as missing, she didn't tell police that she gave her daughter to Terry.
  • When Terry later returned to Day's home, he didn't have Arieanna and that police pointed out to her, Terry had mud on his clothes. The defense attorney says there was no testing done to prove what the substance could be. 
  • Day testified that she lied to police when she told them that Arieanna had fallen from her baby carrier.
  • When asked why she called the police if she willingly gave Arieanna to Terry, Day said she didn't remember. She said her memory was suppressed, but she is sure she gave the baby to Terry and no one else.

At one point during the trial, the judge called this case a “hot mess” and asked the commonwealth's attorney how the state knows if Arieanna is even dead?

The judges cited the number of inconsistent statements from Day, police, Terry and others; however, in the end, he felt that there are enough facts in the case for the jury to decide. 

The jury began its deliberations at 1:45 p.m. and after about four hours, reached a verdict.

10 News has extensively covered all aspects of this case since we first learned of Arieanna's disappearance last year:

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