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Nov. 28, 2022

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Vancouver man guilty of manslaughter in death of infant daughter

Jury hung on second-degree murder charge

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

A Clark County Superior Court jury found a Vancouver man guilty Monday morning of second-degree manslaughter in the 2020 death of his infant daughter. The jury was hung on a charge of second-degree murder, and the judge ordered a mistrial on that count.

Elijah I. Partida, 24, is scheduled to be sentenced on the manslaughter charge Dec. 2.

Judge Robert Lewis also ordered Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu to declare whether he intends to retry Partida on the murder charge at that time. Vu said in court Monday he believes he will retry Partida.

After the verdict was read, defense attorney Michele Michalek said jurors told her 11 of them were in favor of acquitting Partida on the murder charge. One person would not agree to a verdict of not guilty, she said.

Partida was also charged with first-degree manslaughter, but the jurors were split on that charge, with eight of them in favor of convicting him. Instead, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict on the lesser degree of that charge. The jury had been deliberating since Thursday afternoon.

Michalek said she’s not surprised by the jury’s decision, and she’s pleased by the outcome.

The high end of Partida’s sentencing range for the manslaughter conviction is 27 months, Michalek said, and he’s been in jail for 30 months since his arrest. She expects he will be sentenced to credit for time served and released, she said.

Partida was accused of causing multiple brain injuries to his 3-month-old daughter, Maja. Vu 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 the baby’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 during closing arguments, 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.

During her closing arguments, Michalek said there was not enough certainty around when the baby’s injuries occurred and what caused them to convict Partida of causing her death. She argued the child did not suffer shaken baby syndrome, otherwise she wouldn’t have been released from the hospital on Aug. 4, 2020.

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