Butler County babysitter continues fight against conviction for killing toddler

A Hanover Twp. woman who was convicted last year of killing a 3-year-old girl she was babysitting is continuing her fight to have the conviction overturned.

Lindsay Partin, 37, was convicted on April 12, 2019 of murder, involuntary manslaughter and four counts of child endangering. Hannah Wesche, whom Partin babysat, collapsed at Partin’s Shank Road residence on March 8, 2018 and later died.

After the eight-day trial, the jury deliberated 12 hours before finding Partin guilty on all charges. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 years.

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A motion filed in October at the 12th District Court of Appeals by defense attorneys said there were alleged legal errors. It claims that Partin’s case was prejudiced when the prosecution failed to disclose some facts and that she received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.

The appeals court hearing was set for April 6 but postponed because of precautions for the coronavirus. A new date has not been scheduled.

During seven days of testimony, the jury heard Partin’s confession to slapping and hitting the toddler in the days leading up to March 8, then shaking her on that day. She also said the 3-year-old had a couple of falls that caused the bruising observed by the doctors, coroner and EMTs.

Doctors gave testimony about how long the child could have been walking, talking and acting normally after the fatal head injury. Doctors who treated and observed Hannah at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said she would not have been able to function within seconds or minutes.

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The forensic pathologist who performed Hannah’s autopsy said she suffered deep bruising to the back of her head. She also had a hemorrhage to the optic nerve and “tremendous brain damage.”

The prosecution’s doctor said Hannah’s death was a homicide and the toddler would not have been normal within “a couple moments” of receiving the injury.

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A defense forensic pathologist testified Hannah could have had a lucid interval after the injury. He said other bruising in the skull was caused by brain swelling after the injury.

Hannah was with Partin for only a short time on March 8, 2018, before she collapsed. The defense said the the injury could have been caused by her father, Jason Wesche, who dropped her off that morning, or a fall.

Partin’s attorney, Neal Schuett, said the state should have disclosed to the defense that Jason Wesche had a friend staying at his home on March 7, 2018, and that he “lied to investigators that he did not got to Walmart with Hannah Wesche to get milk on March 7, 2018, and that he lied to investigators for over a year.”

At trial, the defense highlighted inconsistencies in Jason Wesche’s testimony when he testified.

The appeal argues that Partin’s counsel was ineffective by not filing a motion to suppress her interrogation statements to investigators and failing to object, or even ask for a continuance, when they were surprised by undisclosed information by the state.

“Reviewing the entire record, weighing the evidence and all reasonable inferences and considering the credibility of witnesses leads to the finding that the jury lost its way and the convictions must be reversed,” the appeal reads.

But the state argues in a response filed in January that the testimony from experts and confessions from Partin support the convictions

“Regarding the morning of March 8. 2018, (Partin) was frustrated with (Hannah) for whining after her father. Appellate then shook (Hannah) for five seconds until (she) stopped whining. Appellant stated she and (Hannah) did actually fall. After the fall, appellant noticed (Hannah) was unconscious. Appellant then shook (Hannah) again and shook (Hannah) hard,” the prosecution wrote.

Partin testified she believed she could physically discipline, squeeze, hit and shake Hannah, prosecutors said.

The jury heard Partin’s live testimony from the witness stand and from police interviews.

The prosecution said if the jury believed Jason Wesche’s testimony, Partin’s testimony and her confessions, “the jury could conclude - and did conclude- beyond a reasonable doubt that (Partin) tortured or cruelly abused (Hannah).”

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