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Jan. 29, 2023

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Vancouver man sentenced to 27 months in death of daughter, gets credit for time served

By , Columbian staff reporter

A Vancouver man was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison but will receive credit for time served in the death of his infant daughter.

A Clark County Superior Court jury found Elijah I. Partida, 24, guilty last month of second-degree manslaughter while failing to reach a verdict on a second-degree murder charge.

Partida was accused of causing multiple brain injuries to his 3-month-old daughter, Maja.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said Friday he will not retry Partida on the murder charge, in exchange for Partida waiving his right to appeal the manslaughter conviction.

Jurors told attorneys after the verdict that 11 of 12 were in favor of acquitting Partida on the murder charge.

The 27-month sentence was at the top of Partida’s sentencing range. He has no prior adult criminal history, according to defense attorney Michele Michalek. She previously said Partida has been in jail for 30 months, since his arrest.

Judge Robert Lewis considered written statements from Maja’s mother, along with statements from the infant’s grandparents. Maja’s grandfather, Chad Lance, said Partida “won the lottery” with his conviction and sentence.

Michalek disagreed with Lance’s statements that the sentence was a win for Partida.

“He didn’t win the lottery, your honor, he lost a child, and he is sad about that,” she said.

Lewis called this one of the more tragic cases he’s presided over.

“I have no doubt you probably do mourn your daughter,” Lewis said to Partida, who appeared via Zoom from the jail. “But I also have no doubt, based on the information I have, that the reason that she’s dead is because of your actions. It’s clear to me you did not control yourself around your daughter, and she suffered the consequences of it in a way a helpless infant can only suffer the consequences.”

At trial, Vu, the prosecutor, argued Maja’s injuries, which also included broken ribs in various stages of healing, were from Partida either shaking the infant or slamming her into a cushioned surface, such as a mattress.

On July 28, 2020, Partida messaged Maja’s mother, saying he thought he had been too rough with Maja; he said he thought she had shaken baby syndrome. This exchange occurred two days after the infant’s mother had returned to work, Vu said, meaning Partida would’ve been home alone with Maja during the day.

Maja’s mother took her to a hospital Aug. 4, 2020, after her symptoms — lack of appetite, vomiting, constipation and fever — persisted. But the baby started to show improvement and was released, court records state.

The baby was in Partida’s care when she became unresponsive Aug. 5, 2020. She suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed first to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, then to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, according to court records. The infant died in the hospital Aug. 11, 2020.

Michalek argued there was not enough certainty around when the baby’s injuries occurred and what caused them to convict Partida of causing her death.