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Shaken baby murder trial to begin Monday

Posted: May 18, 2013 - 8:29pm  |  Updated: May 19, 2013 - 12:09am

The murder trial for a Juneau man accused of killing his 4-month-old daughter by shaking her is slated to begin on Monday.

David J. Paul, now 24, is on trial for two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter for the August 2010 death of Rian Jambi Orr.

Prosecutors charged Paul a year after Orr’s death, saying he admitted to accidently dropping the infant on the linoleum bathroom floor and shaking her once right afterward to make her stop crying.

Paul and the baby’s mother, who was Paul’s live-in girlfriend, found the infant seizing a short time later and took her to the hospital where it was discovered she had a massive brain injury. Orr died a week later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The death was ruled a homicide, and one doctor testified before a grand jury that the death was caused by something akin to Shaken Baby Syndrome, now referred to as Abusive Head Trauma.

The King County Medical Examiner in Seattle also said Orr had older injuries that predated the head injury, including multiple rib fractures that were about two weeks old, a femur fracture and bruising on her chest, according to court documents. Paul was never charged in connection to those injuries.

The case is only now going to trial due to litigation that has been ongoing for the past two years. A judge threw out the original indictment against Paul after finding Juneau police ignored Paul’s request for counsel and coerced involuntary statements from him during an interrogation at the Juneau Police Department station.

The state re-indicted Paul in June 2012 on the same three charges. Second-degree murder is an unclassified felony that can carry up to 99 years in prison, while manslaughter is a class ‘A’ felony that has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Jury selection will begin at 9 a.m. Monday. The trial is expected to last for three weeks in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Philip Pallenberg.

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

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