On Shaken Baby

After four weeks of testimony and two days of deliberations, a jury in Juneau, Alaska, on Monday declared 24-year-old David J. Paul guilty of manslaughter but innocent of second-degree murder in the 2010 death of his girlfriend’s 4-month-old daughter.

Like so many children in these cases, the infant Rian Jambi Orr had a complex medical history, including a skull malformation discovered at autopsy. The prosecution’s case rested heavily on a confession that didn’t match the medical facts, and the trial featured testimony about comments the teenage mother made during the child’s birth.

David J. Paul was not Rian’s biological father, but he was her mother’s boyfriend when the girl was born:  He is listed as the father on her birth certificate and was described as a caring and gentle parent. He and Rian’s mother both say he was the one who got up with Rian early in the morning on…

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