Mother to retake witness stand on Tuesday in infant homicide trial

Jaki Orr
Jaki Orr testifies during David J.Paul’s trial on Friday. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

Jaki Orr, formerly of Juneau, will continue testifying on Tuesday in the case of a former boyfriend accused of physically abusing her four-month old daughter so severely that she eventually died from the injuries.

Orr finished her testimony for the prosecution on Friday and underwent a brief round of cross-examination by David J. Paul’s defense attorney. Paul is on trial for murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the death of the baby Rian Orr.

Jaki Orr described how she remembered bumping noises when Paul twice got up and went to the bathroom to prepare bottles for Rian on the morning of August 9th, 2010.

I noticed that she wouldn’t wake up fully. She would whimper, but not her normal cry. It was a half-whimper and she wouldn’t become fully conscious.”

Orr said the baby later appeared to be suffering from a seizure with arms and legs alternating between rigid and limp, and her eyes would not completely open or they would partially roll back into her head. That prompted an initial trip to Juneau Urgent Care and then onto the Bartlett Regional Hospital emergency room along with a friend’s two other children that Orr and Paul were babysitting.

The baby was eventually medivacked to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but she died on August 15th.

“When I asked the doctor if it was possible that my daughter was suffering, they said there was no way to tell but that she’s never going to make a full recovery and that eventually she was going to die,” said Orr.

“What decision did you make based on that information?” asked assistant District Attorney Nick Polasky.

“I made the decision to take her off life support and end her suffering,” answered Orr.

“How did you feel about that?”

“I thought my world was over, sir.”

During the baby’s stay at Harborview, Orr said Paul was rarely allowed in the hospital room to see Rian and others referred to him as a ‘monster.’

From the morning of the hospital trip until after the baby died, Orr testified that Paul continued to deny that anything happened to the baby in the bathroom. But then, under cross examination by public defender Eric Hedland about the timeline of August 9th, she recalled a conversation with Paul three days after Rian died.

“So you understood that he accidentally dropped her and that’s what you thought to be true? That’s your testimony?” asked Hedland.

“Yes, sir. I understood that he accidentally dropped her,” answered Orr.

“And then you stayed with him?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And presumably decided to have a life with him?”

“Yes, sir.”

Orr and Paul remained together for at least another seven months when they conceived a child together, a boy who was born on the following Christmas.

Jaki Orr’s cross-examination was put on hold on Friday to accommodate a physician who had arrived from Seattle to testify for the prosecution..

Dr. Thomas Brogan
Dr. Thomas Brogan of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle refers to a CT scan projected to jurors as he testifies during David J.Paul’s trial on Friday. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

Dr. Thomas Brogan is a pediatric intensivenist associated with the University of Washington School of Medicine who primarily works at the pediatric ICU’s at Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital. He testified that Rian Orr, when she arrived, continued with seizures and appeared to have difficulty breathing, suffered from old fractures of the ribs and a possible fracture of the right femur or thigh bone.

The rib fractures did not tell me this child had a head injury due to child abuse. The rib fractures show me that she had been abused before.”

A computed tomography or CT scan indicated a subdural hematoma, or collection of blood inside the skull but outside the brain, and a cerebral edema or swelling of the brain in response to some injury. Such swelling can reduce blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

Dr. Brogan said no one explained any of the injuries to his satisfaction.

“The head injury needs to be explained in a fashion that makes sense.”

As a result of the swelling and its treatment, he said Rian developed lung disease and cardiovascular dysfunction which eventually led them to recommend pallative or comfort care for the dying baby.

David Paul
David J. Paul leaves the courtroom during Friday’s session of his trial. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

Original story

Jurors on Friday heard more testimony from the mother of an infant who was allegedly killed by physical abuse inflicted by the mother’s boyfriend.

Jaki Orr described how she remembered bumping noises when David J. Paul went to the bathroom to feed four-month old Rian Orr. Paul’s feeding of the baby preceded the baby going into seizures that required a trip to the hospital emergency room on the morning of August 9th, 2010. The baby was later medivacked to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but she was removed from life support and died on August 15th.

Paul is on trial for murder and manslaughter charges in connection with Rian Orr’s death.

Jaki Orr was briefly cross-examined by Paul’s defense on Friday to allow another witness, a Harborview physician who attended to the baby, to testify before leaving Juneau. The doctor described a CT scan which appeared to show the baby suffering from swelling of the brain and blood that pooled on both sides of the brain under the skull.

Jurors will return to hear more testimony from Orr on Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday.

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