Defendant convicted of manslaughter in baby’s death

By Peter H. Milliken


A judge acquitted Evan Lee of murdering his 4-month-old daughter, but found him guilty of the lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter.

Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court announced his ruling Thursday after a nonjury trial that began Monday after Lee waived his right to a jury trial.

Lee, 23, originally was charged with murder, felonious assault and two counts of child endangering in the May 13, 2013, death of his daughter, Ila Lee, in their Woodside Avenue home on the East Side.

The judge convicted Lee of one count of child endangering, acquitted him of the other child-endangering charge, and acquitted him of felonious assault.

Lee could get three to 14 years in prison when he is sentenced at 11 a.m. Monday.

Had he been convicted of murder, he would have been facing 15 years to life in prison.

A doctor who treated the baby at St. Elizabeth Health Center said her fatal brain injuries were caused by “violent, whiplash shaking,” but a forensic pathologist testifying for the defense said there were no marks and no evidence on the baby’s torso to suggest someone held and shook her.

The Summit County Coroner’s Office ruled Ila’s death a homicide due to complications of blunt-force trauma to her head.

“There is clear and uncontradicted evidence and testimony” that Ila suffered eye, scalp, throat, chest and arm injuries, Judge Durkin said.

“It’s clear to me that an abuse took place. I just don’t know when or where,” or who abused her, Judge Durkin said.

The judge convicted Lee of involuntary manslaughter because he said Lee recklessly caused his daughter’s death as a result of endangering her.

Douglas King, the defense lawyer, declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

“The only person who was there who knows exactly what happened is the defendant,” said Rebecca Doherty, chief of the criminal division of the county prosecutor’s office.

“I have the medical evidence showing that she was abused,” said Doherty, who prosecuted the case. “These cases, by their very nature, are so hard to prove.”

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