Mistrial declared in alleged baby assault case

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: August 3, 2011, 7:03 PM

 

After eight hours of heated deliberations Wednesday, a Clark County jury said it could not decide whether a Vancouver man seriously assaulted his 5-month-old daughter in 2009.

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle declared a mistrial late in the afternoon, after the panel of eight women and four men returned to the courtroom to say they were deadlocked.

A review date was set for Aug. 25. Prosecutors can decide whether to retry the case, resolve it with a plea agreement or dismiss charges altogether.

Ryan Buck Kannegaard, 26, is charged with first-degree assault of a child and first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Deputy Prosecutor Rachael Probstfeld said afterward it was too soon to say how the case would be handled.

After jurors left the courtroom, the judge said there appeared to be “intense disagreement” among the panelists. “There were some rather loud discussions in the jury room,” Wulle said.

There was no question that the baby, Phoenix, was seriously injured Nov. 2, 2009, when she was rushed to the hospital with a perforated bowel and possible lacerated spleen and broken wrist.

The point of contention during the six-day trial was how she was hurt.

Prosecutors said Kannegaard, who was watching his daughter, snapped under the pressure of marital and financial stress, and assaulted the baby, though they couldn’t explain exactly what happened.

The defense described Kannegaard as a loving and gentle father whose 3-year-old stepdaughter hurt the baby when she jumped on her. A new parent, Kannegaard had fed Phoenix and put her to bed when she was severely injured, not knowing what else to do, defense attorney David McDonald said.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson argued that all signs pointed to Kannegaard’s guilt. After the baby was hurt in the evening, he cleaned up the blood and put her in the crib, never seeking medical attention or consulting family members about her well-being.

The baby’s mother, Lydia Kannegaard, arrived home from work, found Phoenix blue, limp and vomiting blood and rushed her to the hospital. The baby survived.

The defense attorney pointed out, though, that none of the doctors who testified could rule out the possibility that a 3-year-old could cause such injuries.