Monday, July 2, 2012

In Alaska, Judge dismisses indictment against man accused of murdering infant | Shaken Baby Syndrome

The indictment against a 23-year-old man reportedly accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 4-month-old baby in 2010 has been dismissed, which means he won’t have to stand trial unless prosecutors re-indict him.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg reportedly ruled Thursday to dismiss the indictment against David James Paul after finding that Paul’s confession — accidently dropping the infant on a linoleum bathroom floor and shaking her once right afterward to make her stop crying — was involuntary.
“No murder is more serious than the murder of a child,” Pallenberg wrote in his ruling. “The seriousness of the crime charged, however, does not lessen the court’s — or the police’s — obligation to follow the law.”
Paul’s attorney, public defender Eric Hedland, reportedly argued that Juneau Police Department officers ignored his client’s request for counsel during an interview at the police station on Aug. 18, 2010, and then coerced a confession.
There was reportedly no one factor in and of itself that rendered the statements involuntary, Pallenberg ruled, but given the “totality of the circumstances” surrounding the confession, “I cannot find the state has met its burden of showing that the subsequent statements were made voluntary.”
Rian Jambi Orr
Paul was reportedly indicted by a Juneau grand jury in July 2011 for second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection to death of Rian Jambi Orr.
Orr was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital the morning of Aug. 9, 2010, after Paul and his live-in girlfriend, the baby’s mother Jacqueline M. Orr, noticed the infant was seizing. They took her to BRH, where it was discovered she had a massive brain injury.
The baby was medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle that night and required brain surgery. Orr, who was 12.9 pounds and 22 inches long, died on Aug. 15, 2010.
The King County Medical State Examiner in Seattle ruled the death a homicide, listing the cause of death as a subdural brain hematoma and subarachnoid hemorrhage. That means there was bleeding between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain, and the examiner testified blood was found around, over and inside the brain.
The examiner, Dr. Richard Harruff, also said Orr had older injuries that predated the head injuries, according to court documents, including multiple rib fractures that were about two weeks old, a femur fracture and bruising on her chest.
Harruff said the head injury was likely caused by “blunt force” to her head with a “soft object,” according to his report. A hypothetical example of that would be a baby being thrown on a bed.
Likewise, another doctor who examined Orr at Harborview Medical Center, Dr. Naomi Sugar, testified that the cause of death was something akin to Shaken Baby Syndrome, which is now referred to as Abusive Head Trauma. Sugar noted that Orr’s brain injury did not stem from an “impact injury,” like hitting a hard surface, since there was no skull fracture.
Sugar also testified she thought that the older injuries were caused by child abuse, according to charging documents.

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If you have any questions or concerns about what can be done to help babies who have been shaken, or families of babies who have died, please call Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm toll-free for free consultation at (888) 592-5437 (KIDS), click on contact us here, or use the web form provided at

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