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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man faces murder charge in death of partner

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 5, 2023, 5:20pm

A Vancouver man accused of killing his partner during a fight April 29 at their apartment is now facing an allegation of second-degree murder in Clark County Superior Court.

Vancouver police arrested Kemawi “Eric” Simon, 32, Thursday on suspicion of second-degree domestic violence manslaughter.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim Friday as 59-year-old David Giese of Vancouver. His cause of death is listed as blunt neck trauma, including probable strangulation, according to a news release. Giese’s death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

During Simon’s court appearance Friday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith asked Judge Jennifer Snider to find probable cause for the more serious charge and requested Simon’s bail be set at $3 million.

Smith noted Simon had pending warrants from 2017 out of Multnomah County, Ore., and Clark County District Court. He also had a prior third-degree assault conviction in Superior Court for assaulting a police officer who responded to a prior report of domestic violence between the couple, she said.

Defense attorney Angela Avery told the court that in the prior Superior Court case Giese later said he did not feel threatened by Simon and requested the no-contact order be dropped.

Snider said she was concerned Simon had been on warrant status in two cases for six years. She set his bail at $1.5 million. He is scheduled to be arraigned May 17.

Police had responded at about 4:30 p.m. to an apartment at 3903 E. 18th St., to assist EMS. The 911 caller, identified as Simon, reported he had been in a fight with his partner, and he didn’t think his partner was breathing anymore, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Medical personnel responded to the unit and found Giese dead in the bathroom. It appeared Giese had been dead for more than 12 hours. Investigators also said it appeared Giese died lying face down on the bathroom floor, but he had been turned over onto his back before medics arrived, court records state.

Investigators said there were signs of a struggle in the bathroom, including damage to a closet door, the affidavit states.

Giese had swelling around his left eye and an injury to his right hand, which investigators later determined to be a bite mark, according to the affidavit.

In an interview with police, Simon said he was washing his face in the bathroom, either late April 28 or early April 29, when Giese came in and began yelling at him. He said they started shoving each other, causing damage to the closet door. He told officers Giese bit him, and he bit Giese back, according to court records.

Simon said the fight ended, and he left the bathroom. He went to the living room to cool off while he thought Giese was using the toilet. When he went to check on Giese after a few hours, he said he saw Giese lying on the floor, the affidavit states.

Officers said Simon told them he thought Giese was sleeping and left him alone. After a while, he checked on Giese again, noticed his condition and called 911, according to court records.

The affidavit states Simon told officers he had smoked methamphetamine before and after the incident.

Officers seized Simon’s pants, which appeared to have blood on them, and they let Simon leave the police station, court records say.

On Tuesday, the medical examiner notified investigators that Giese’s death was ruled a homicide, and he died from probable strangulation, the affidavit states.

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When police interviewed Simon again Thursday, he told them he put his arm around Giese’s neck from behind, which was when Giese bit him. They then fell to the ground, he said, with Giese underneath him and face down. He said he did not mean to cause Giese’s death during the struggle, according to the affidavit.