Juneau man, convicted of manslaughter in infant’s death, loses his appeal

David Paul was found guilty of manslaughter in 2013

David J. Paul, 24, appears in Juneau Superior Court on Monday, May 20, 2013, as jury selection began in his trial. Paul is facing two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter for the August 2010 death of his 4-month-old daughter Rian Jambi Orr. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A Juneau man convicted of killing an infant has lost his appeal.


On Wednesday, the Alaska Court of Appeals upheld the manslaughter conviction of David Paul, who killed four-month-old Rian Jambi Orr in 2010.

In a 2013 trial, a Juneau jury found Paul did not murder Orr, but his actions did lead to her death and were worthy of a manslaughter conviction. Paul was sentenced to prison for the Class A felony.

Paul’s appeal hinged on an illegal interrogation conducted by the Juneau Police Department when it first investigated Orr’s death.

In that 2010 interrogation, officers lied to Paul about the results of a polygraph (lie-detector) test and acted as though he was under arrest even as they told him he was free to leave. Officers also interrogated Paul for four hours, even though he requested an attorney.

Detectives Kim Horn and Russ Haight, who were filmed conducting the investigation, are no longer part of the department, according to JPD rosters.

In that interrogation, Paul said he dropped Orr on the floor and said he probably broke her leg when he tried to stop her from falling.

Eleven months later, JPD officers arrested Paul and a different officer re-interviewed him after telling him about his Miranda rights. He repeated his earlier story and added that he shook Orr in an attempt to make her stop crying.

During trial, Paul’s attorneys contended that the first interview should be thrown out because it was illegal. Judge Philip Pallenberg agreed, but he ruled that the second interview, conducted 11 months later and without any of the officers from the first interview, should be part of the record.

In his appeal, Paul said both interviews should have been thrown out.

The appeals court disagreed. Writing for the three-judge panel hearing the case, Judge John Suddock wrote that “the tactics and procedures employed by the police … qualify as a flagrant violation of Paul’s Fifth Amendment Rights,” but the second interview was sufficiently separate from the first to be legal.

“Given the totality of the circumstances, we agree with the judge’s conclusion that the July 2011 interview was sufficiently insulated from the August 2010 illegality to escape its taint,” Suddock wrote.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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