Shannon Gargis capital murder trial underway in Franklin County

RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – More than two years after the death of a Franklin County toddler, the man accused is standing trial.

Shannon Dale Gargis is charged with capital murder for intentionally causing the girl’s death.

Over the last three days, a jury pool of 500 people were questioned repeatedly by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Wednesday afternoon, 12 jurors and two alternates started hearing the case.

The details of how 22-month old Serenity Renfroe died are haunting. A state forensics autopsy performed shortly after her death indicated Serenity died from blunt force trauma to the head.

During a preliminary hearing after Shannon Gargis’s arrest, an investigator with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office took the stand. He stated under oath, Gargis admitted to becoming “overly aggressive” after the baby spilled cereal on the floor. The investigator added Gargis said he picked the toddler up by the throat and threw her across the room onto a loveseat, hitting her head.

Prosecutors opened their statement by saying this was one of the most serious cases in Franklin County history. District Attorney Joey Rushing took jurors step-by-step through the investigation and how they believe Gargis killed serenity.

Autopsy results showed she had over 100 bruises on her body – which showed signs of abuse.

Defense attorneys claim the death of Serenity came at the hands of her mother Halie Renfroe. According to investigators, Renfroe was at work until 2:30 that morning and returned home to find Serenity dead and laying at the feet of Gargis who was asleep.

In 2017, Halie Renfroe pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution after it was determined she was not involved in the death. She is expected to testify for the prosecution during the trail.

Courthouse officials expect the trail to last at least two weeks. If convicted, Gargis could face the death penalty.

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