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State re-indicts man accused of murdering girlfriend's 4-month-old

Jury trial for David J. Paul now slated to begin in December

Posted: July 24, 2012 - 11:05pm

The state has re-indicted a Juneau man who is accused of causing the death of his girlfriend’s 4-month-old baby in 2010.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg dismissed the first indictment against David J. Paul, 23, last month, saying Juneau police ignored his request for counsel and coerced involuntary statements from him during an interrogation at the Juneau Police Department station. Pallenberg suppressed those statements and then ruled there wasn’t enough remaining evidence in the grand jury record to support the indictment.

A grand jury handed up a second indictment Friday, almost exactly a year later. The first indictment was issued July 8, 2011, and Paul was arrested that day. He has since remained in custody at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Paul faces the same charges as before — two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter in connection to the death of Rian Jambi Orr.

Second-degree murder is an unclassified felony that can carry up to 99 years in prison and manslaughter is a class ‘A’ felony that can carry up to 20 years in prison.

A copy of the new indictment was made available to the Empire Tuesday.

Paul appeared in court before Pallenberg on Tuesday for his arraignment. Paul’s attorney, public defender Eric Hedland, entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf and waived further reading of his rights.

The attorneys and judge discussed scheduling challenges for Paul’s trial which in Alaska must happen within 120 days of being served to guarantee a defendant the right to a speedy trial. There was also the issue of expert witnesses’ availability.

Pallenberg ultimately scheduled a three week-long trial to begin on Dec. 3. That’s the same day Troy Wilson’s trial is slated to begin, but Pallenberg said if need be, another judge could preside over one of those trials. Wilson is a former JPD lieutenant and SWAT instructor who is accused of opening fire on police officers and their vehicles Easter Sunday and shooting off 75 to 100 rounds.

Paul was slated to stand trial earlier this month, but that July 9 trial start date was vacated after the prior indictment was dismissed. Prosecutors at that time said they did not know if they were going to try to re-indict Paul.

Paul was originally singled out as a suspect in the case shortly after he and his live-in girlfriend — the baby’s mother Jacqueline M. Orr — took the infant to Bartlett Regional Hospital, where it was discovered she had a massive brain injury. The baby had been seizing, and she died later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Aug. 15, 2010.

Court documents show the death was ruled a homicide, and one doctor, who testified before both grand jury proceedings, said in her opinion the death was caused by something akin to Shaken Baby Syndrome.

A series of evidentiary hearings held in court recently showed that Paul denied any wrongdoing, including dropping or shaking the baby, until a four-hour long interrogation at the police station on Aug. 18, 2010. At the end of the interrogation, prosecutors say Paul admitted to accidently dropping the infant on the linoleum bathroom floor and shaking her once right afterward to make her stop crying.

Pallenberg wrote in his ruling that given the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation, Paul’s statements were inadmissible and that the grand jury heard improper evidence.

Pallenberg, however, ruled that later statements given by Paul to police ­— on the day of his arrest, which was nearly a year after Orr’s death and the interrogation in August 2010 — were admissible.

In the later interview, Pallenberg noted, Paul was read his Miranda warning, waived his rights, was interviewed by a police officer who was new to the case, and only made a passing reference to the earlier interview. Plus, 11 months had passed, Pallenberg wrote.

Paul’s attorney Hedland argued the interview was tainted by the earlier illegality and should be suppressed, too, but the judge disagreed.

“Having examined the totality of the circumstances, I am convinced that the July 2011 statements were sufficiently insulated from the August 2010 statements that they were not tainted by the earlier illegality. Therefore, as to the July 8, 2011 statements, the motion to suppress is denied,” Pallenberg ruled.

According to an affidavit, Paul told police on July 8 that after he accidently dropped Orr: “When I picked her up she was crying so I said “Hey!” and shook her only one time. I had my hands to her side, my pinkies holding her back and my thumbs tight on her chest. When I did that her head flopped about three times. It went back once, forward, back and she caught herself. I may have squeezed hard enough to cause the bruises on her chest. She stopped crying after that.”

Paul is scheduled to appear in court next month for an omnibus hearing and then in November for a pretrial hearing.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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