Jury returns verdict in infant homicide trial

David J. Paul (blue shirt, left) talks to his grandmother in the courtroom gallery following the verdict in his case while Judicial Services Officer Al Fenumiai (right) handcuffs him and public defender Eric Hedland (center) watches. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

A Juneau jury has acquitted David J. Paul of second degree murder with extreme indifference to the value of human life, but convicted Paul of manslaughter.

“OK. So, for Count Two, not guilty. For Count Three, guilty,” said the jury foreman who delivered the verdict several minutes after noon on Monday. The verdict came only a few hours after the jury sent out the latest note asking about the elements and factors of the two charges against Paul.

Count One, murder in the second degree with intent or knowledge of causing serious injury or death, was essentially thrown out earlier in the trial. Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg granted public defender Eric Hedland’s motion of judgment of acquittal on that charge.

The 24-year-old Paul has been on trial for causing the death, possibly by shaking, of four-month old Rian Orr, the daughter of his then-girlfriend Jaki Orr. The baby died in August 2010, with brain injuries.

The jury began deliberating late Thursday afternoon. The trial entered the fifth week on Monday.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp issued a short statement on Monday afternoon thanking the jury for taking almost five weeks out of their lives to serve their community and perform a difficult task.

As for the verdict in this case, it is the collective hope of the Juneau District Attorney’s Office and the Juneau Police Department that by presenting Rian’s case we did right by Rian, vindicated her memory, and served justice.”

Public defender Eric Hedland signaled that he intends to file another motion calling for a new trial or judgment of acquittal on the manslaughter charge.

At least the way I understand the rule, the way I interpret the rule, is that Mr. Paul could, within five days from today’s date, submit a motion to have either the court set aside the verdict and order a new trial or renew the motion for judgment of acquittal.”

Paul’s defense stipulated to aggravators of the crime occurring to a most vulnerable person who is unable to resist because of extreme youth and the victim being a member of the same social unit within a single residence.

Barbara Bruce, Paul’s grandmother from Rainier, Washington, said the verdict wasn’t quite as bad as she feared. But she still would’ve preferred that he was found innocent of all the charges.

I know he called me as soon as he got to Harborview (Medical Center in Seattle). He had to pay his own way to Harborview because they refuse to let him medevac out with them. They immediately told him that it was all his fault, a 100 percent his fault. Jaki (Orr, Rian’s mother) was just way too little to have done such as thing. And I told him “David, that’s not true. It’s not true. She could have hurt the baby.” I asked him “What happened?” He goes “I don’t know what happened, Grandma. I don’t know what happened to her.” He’s never lied to me before. I don’t think he was lying to me then either.”

Bruce said her grandson loved that baby and cared for Rian as if it was his own child.

Sentencing has been scheduled for all day on September 5th. Paul could receive between seven and eleven years in prison.

Judge Pallenberg profusely thanked the six-man, six-woman jury for their weeks of dedication and service to the case. (There was also an additional man and a woman who served as jurors for the majority of the case, but they were randomly selected as alternates on Thursday and excused from deliberations.)

It’s way above and beyond the call of duty as jurors. Most people get called for jury duty for a day or two. And this is week five. I’m enormously aware of the imposition that is on your lives.”

And he also let them know about a relatively new state law.

There’s money budgeted and set aside. If anybody feels like, either just because of the strain of being here that has caused dislocation and trauma on your life or the subject matter, there is money available for a number of sessions with a trained and certified counselor that can work with you on those things. I’m not telling you that I think you need it or that you don’t need it. But the law is there and the money is available.”

In addition to the trial lasting into the fifth week, several jurors were visibly upset or turned away from autopsy photos that were shown as evidence.

(Story updated June 18, 5:07 a.m. to include comment from District Attorney’s office.)

 

 

Original story, June 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm

A Juneau jury has found David J. Paul NOT guilty on a single count of second degree murder with extreme indifference to the value of human life.

Paul has been found GUILTY of manslaughter.

The Superior Court jury delivered the verdict just a few minutes ago.

The 24-year-old Paul has been on trial for causing the death, possibly by shaking, of four-month old Rian Orr, the daughter of his then-girlfriend Jaki Orr. The baby died in August 2010, with brain injuries.  The trial lasted more than three weeks. The jury began deliberating late Thursday afternoon.

Paul’s defense stipulated to aggravators of the crime occurring to a most vulnerable person of a very young age and as member of the same social unit.

Sentencing has been scheduled for all day on September 5th. But public defender Eric Hedland signaled that he intends to file another motion for judgment of acquittal on the manslaughter charge.

Sidebar conversations

Defendant David Paul (right foreground) chats with defense paralegal Thea Howard as Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg, public defender Eric Hedland, and assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp hold a bench conference earlier in the trial. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

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