A jury returned guilty verdicts in the trial of a Hanover Twp. babysitter accused in the death of a 3-year-old toddler.
Lindsay Partin, 36, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and three counts of child endangering in addition to the murder charge after Hannah Wesche collapsed at her Shank Road residence on March 8, 2018.
The jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges. A sentencing date was set for May 9, and she faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for the murder charge.
Partin’s bond was revoked, and she was taken into custody following the verdict.
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The jury deliberated for more than 12 hours on Friday before returning the verdicts shortly before 9:30 p.m.
During seven days full 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 falls that cause the bruising observed by the doctors, coroner and EMTs.
Dueling 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.
Dr. Dorothy Dean, the forensic pathologist who performed Hannah’s autopsy, said Hannah suffered deep bruising to the back of her head, some of which was revealed only after the skin was peeled away from the skull. She also had a hemorrhage to the optic nerve and “tremendous brain damage.”
“Hannah died of traumatic brain injury due to blunt impact to the head,” she said.
Dean said Hannah’s death was a homicide and that the toddler would not have been normal within “a couple moments” of receiving the injury.
But defense witness Dr. Werner Spitz, a nationally noted forensic pathologist, said Hannah could have had a lucid interval after the injury was caused by the skull coming in to contact with a hard surface. He said other bruising in the skull was caused by brain swelling after the injury.
Hannah was with Partin for a matter of seconds or minutes on March 8, 2018 before she collapsed, and the defense said the child’s father, Jason Wesche, who dropped her of that morning, could have caused her injury, or it could have been been a fall.
The defense and Partin, when she testified in her own defense, said a confession she gave to detectives in interviews was false and that she was bullied by detectives.
Prosecutors told the jury during closing arguments that Partin told numerous stories of what happened to the toddler, but she eventually the truth.
"You heard denial after denial, but that truth finally came out,” said Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Lindsay Sheehan said, who then played Partin’s interrogation video on March 9, 2018.
"I got mad and I just slapped her up the side of the head," Partin says in the video. "I shook her and I remember picking her up and squeezing her."
Defense attorney Melynda Cook Howard told the jury during closings that detectives did not download Jason Wesche’s phone data and did not investigate many leads that would have shed more light on the investigation.
Howard said Partin was Jason Wesche’s patsy, confessing after talking with the father at the hospital. He told her Hannah had an aneurysm and that he thought she wouldn’t get in trouble because it was not an abusive situation.
"Lindsay Partin is innocent. I will say she is guilty of being stupid and really trusting," Howard said, adding the detectives bullied her into a confession and after the got one did no further investigation: “They did what they don’t even do on ‘Scooby-Doo.’”