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Grandma cleared of felony homicide

Instead judge finds Bellamy guilty of lesser charge
by: Bruce Ely Carolyn Bellamy, charged with murdering her granddaughter, listens to  Judge Janice R. Wilson read the verdict. Wilson, a Multnomah County Circuit judge, found the Gresham grandmother guilty of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide in the October 2009 death of her granddaughter.

Carolyn Bellamy, 60, a former Gresham resident, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide for the death of her nearly 2-year-old granddaughter, Ariana Magathan, in October 2009.

The verdict came after a trial that lasted nearly two weeks at the Multnomah County Circuit Court under Judge Janice R. Wilson.

On Oct. 12, 2009, Bellamy called 9-1-1 to report Ariana was not breathing. She told police she had been on the phone with Cricket Wireless when Ariana crawled off the foot of the bed, went limp and stopped breathing.

According to three doctors who testified in the trial, Ariana died of abusive head trauma caused by 'a rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head,' commonly known as 'shaken baby syndrome.' They also mentioned that a brain-stem injury may have contributed to her death as well.

The defense argued that the cause of Ariana's death was the fall off of the bed, which was about 22 inches high. Deputy District Attorney John Casalino, however, said in his closing arguments that 'a short fall would not have killed this child.'

He argued instead that the child had gotten into Bellamy's papers while she was on the phone, causing her to become annoyed with the child. Bellamy, he argued, had shaken the child and caused her injuries and ultimate death.

'We work hard to disbelieve painful things,' Casalino said. 'This is a tragedy but it is also a crime.'

Bellamy waived her right to a jury trial, but Judge Wilson said she treated her deliberations as she would have a jury, isolating herself in her chambers to go over the evidence for a day and a half.

After considering all the facts in the case, Wilson said in her verdict, 'I have no reasonable doubt that Carolyn Bellamy caused the death of Ariana Magathan.'

However, Wilson said she did not believe Bellamy was consciously trying to harm Ariana and said that she was not aware that her actions would cause Ariana's death.

'I have no doubt that Carolyn Bellamy genuinely loved Ariana,' she said. 'I, too, have been horrified by my own acts.'

Thus, Bellamy was found innocent of second-degree manslaughter, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree felony murder. She will be sentenced at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1. Most likely, she will receive 16-18 months in prison, and she has already served 14 months.

'It was the right ruling in this case,' Bellamy's defense attorney Russell Barnett said.

Bellamy's mother, Myrtle Figgins, who visited Bellamy every Saturday in jail, said her daughter would not have knowingly harmed Ariana.

'She has always been a caring person,' Figgins said. 'She has no temper.'

Figgins and other family members are happy to see the whole process come to an end.

'It's been a very long year,' longtime friend Julie Beilek said. 'It's been very, very difficult. But she (Bellamy) stayed very positive.'