Friday, August 26, 2011

New trial set for dad accused of assaulting infant daughter (Vancouver, Washington)


New trial set for father accused of assaulting infant daughter
Decision causes outrage among defendant's family, friends

By Laura McVicker
Columbian Staff Reporter

Originally published August 25, 2011 at 1:02 p.m., updated August 25, 2011 at 5:19 p.m.

After the first trial resulted in a hung jury, prosecutors on Thursday scheduled a new trial for a Vancouver man accused of seriously assaulting his infant daughter.

The decision comes despite the fact that the 12-member jury reportedly voted 11 to 1 earlier this month to acquit Ryan Buck Kannegaard, 26, of first-degree assault of a child. Verdicts must be unanimous.

“After a long and arduous trial … the jury clearly felt that the evidence presented by the state was insufficient,” defense attorney David McDonald said in a statement. “Based on the jury result, it is disappointing that the state has determined it is necessary to reset this matter for trial.”

At Deputy Prosecutor Rachael Probstfeld’s request, Superior Court Judge John Wulle set a new trial date of Oct. 31.

However, Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said he is still not sure whether his office will retry the case. He said he planned to make a decision next week.

Golik said the reason his office hasn’t made a decision yet is because of the seriousness of the case.

“It’s obviously a difficult case — very emotional. We just want to make sure we’re making the right decision,” he said. “We don’t want to make a quick decision on such a serious case, one way or another.”

Citing court rules, Golik couldn’t comment on specifics because it is a pending case.

The prosecution’s decision Thursday to reset trial led several of Kannegaard’s friends and family to contact The Columbian in outrage.

Kannegaard’s uncle, Clyde Holloway, said he couldn’t believe prosecutors wanted to go forward with another trial, especially after knowing the jury’s opinion. He said that after the announcement of the mistrial on Aug. 3, he was standing with Kannegaard in the courthouse lobby when several tearful jurors approached the family.

“There were numerous jurors who stopped to hug Buck,” Holloway said. “They said, ‘We’re so sorry. We wanted to acquit you. It’s obvious you didn’t do it.’”

Kannegaard’s friend, Adam Trent, who was a character witness at trial, said he wants to stage a protest outside the courthouse.

“I know without a doubt that he is innocent, and this trial is ruining his life,” Trent said by email. “He hasn’t been able to see his child in over two years, let alone have anything resembling normalcy.”

According to several sources, jurors said they voted 11-1 to acquit on the assault charge. Jurors were fuzzier on the second charge of criminal mistreatment; some said the vote was 9-3 to acquit and others said it was 10-2 or 11-1.

Charges related to a Nov. 2, 2009, incident when Kannegaard’s 5-month-old daughter Phoenix was rushed to the hospital with a perforated bowel, possible lacerated spleen and broken wrist. She eventually recovered.

During trial, prosecutors said Kannegaard had been watching his daughter the evening she was injured and put her to bed without consulting family or taking her to the hospital, jurors heard.

Mom Lydia Kannegaard came home that night and, after checking on her daughter a couple times, found her coughing up blood. She took her to the hospital.

Prosecutors alleged that Kannegaard snapped due to financial and marital stress, causing the baby’s injuries.

The defense said the baby’s injuries were caused by her 3-year-old sister jumping on her. A new, young father, Kannegaard put her to bed, not knowing what else to do, McDonald said.

Doctors who testified at trial said they could not rule out the possibility that a toddler could cause such injuries to an infant.

Trials cost the county approximately $1,500 or $2,000 a day, including staff costs.