CHRISTIANSBURG — Andrew Christopher Terry said Wednesday he prefers to have a jury, not a judge, decide if he improperly buried his 3-month-old daughter.
Terry, 32, was charged last year with concealing a body after his daughter Arieanna Day disappeared from her mother’s home in Roanoke. After a short hearing Wednesday, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Turk scheduled a two-day jury trial to begin Sept. 25.
Terry had been slated to have a bench trial, where a judge would decide his guilt or innocence, on Wednesday. But defense attorney Angi Simpkins of Dublin told Turk that her client now wanted a jury to hear his case.
Turk quickly questioned Terry about whether this was his preference and if Terry understood that he was waiving his right to a speedy trial by switching to a jury, then put the new trial dates on the calendar.
After the hearing, Capt. Brian Wright of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an email that there was nothing new to report on the months of searching for Arieanna’s body. Appeals to people who live in or travel through eastern Montgomery County produced some leads, “however, they have been exhausted at this point,” Wright wrote.
The search for Arieanna began on Sept. 12, the day after her mother reported that the baby girl had vanished and that she thought Terry had come into her house and taken their daughter.
At an October hearing in Terry’s case, a Roanoke detective said that after eight to 10 hours of questioning, Terry said that on the night of Sept. 11, he had picked up Arieanna from her mother. Terry said the mother told him to take the girl.
In a videotaped interrogation, Terry said Arieanna had a slight cut and general swelling when he picked her up, but said he was scared to seek medical care for her.
Investigators said that Terry told them he carried Arieanna in his lap as he drove from Roanoke to his home in Blacksburg, and that she died during the journey. Terry said that he stopped in Montgomery County near the intersection of Jennelle and Cedar Run roads, and buried Arieanna in a grave he dug with his hands.
But Terry was unable to lead searchers to the grave and soon recanted his story, investigators said at the October hearing. Searches with dogs found nothing.
The videotaped interrogation occurred on Sept. 13. In an excerpt played at the October hearing, Terry returned to the story of having buried his daughter.
“I swear to you she’s over there somewhere,” Terry said in the recording.