Murder trial begins for Portland father accused of killing his 1-year-old daughter

Darian McWoods sits in court Wednesday, May 16, 2018 accused of killing his 1-year-old daughter by a drug overdose. (KATU Photo)

Prosecutors told a Multnomah County jury Wednesday that they believe Darian McWoods' deception about what happened the day his daughter Kamaya died in December 2013 contributed to the fact it took years for investigators to uncover what really happened.

"She died in her father’s care," deputy District Attorney Amity Girt told the jury. "She suffered abusive injuries consistent with compression asphyxia. And she had illicit drugs in her system. Her father, the defendant, for years misled law enforcement about the circumstances of her death."

Girt played three 911 calls for the jury from the day Kamaya died.

Police investigators knew about two of them early on in the investigation, Girt said, including one from Darian McWoods.

But prosecutors eventually found a third 911 call that came in five minutes before the others in which the caller first said Kamaya was turning blue, then eventually canceled their request for an ambulance, saying the little girl was recovering.

By the time first responders arrived, Girt told the jury Kamaya was already essentially dead.

A month after Kamaya's death, investigators received toxicology reports from the Oregon State Police crime lab.

"And at that time a complete picture of Kamaya's death was discovered. She had methadone in her system. Enough to make her stop breathing and go unconscious. She also had a detectable amount of methamphetamine in her system." said Girt.

Methadone is a strong synthetic drug used in the treatment of heroin and morphine addiction.

Darian McWoods' attorney told the jury no one really knows how drugs got into the little girl's blood, and that something appeared to be wrong with the little girl when McWoods picked her up the night before she died.

"When he picked up the child, the child was lethargic, listless and not herself," attorney Josephine Townsend told the jury. "She wasn't acting right."

Townsend said McWoods hesitated, calling police because he was on probation for a previous child assault conviction involving a different child, and being alone with Kamaya would be a probation violation.

Townsend says instead, Darian McWoods called his mother several times.

"Darian called his mother in a panic. He had found Kamaya wedged between a futon and a wall and she was unresponsive. And he said, ‘You need to get here now. Something is wrong with Kamaya," said Townsend.

Police arrested McWoods after a three-year investigation.

On the night of Kamaya's death, prosecutors say McWoods was home alone with his daughter.

McWoods’ sister, Diamond McWoods, was also arrested in the case. She pleaded guilty on Monday to a perjury charge, stating she falsely said she was with Darian when he found Kamaya unconscious, and that she didn't start CPR. She may be called as a defense witness in her brother's trial, KATU News learned.

Court documents say McWoods "had access to pain pills and also liked to do Molly," the street name for ecstasy.

The Oregonian first reported that prosecutors told a judge that McWoods sometimes mixed his drugs into kid-friendly drinks, such as Capri Sun juice pouches.

Prosecutors say McWoods also used dangerous tactics like "holding Kamaya down to get her to go to sleep."

Townsend told KATU that McWoods is not responsible for his daughter's death. She said documents point out poor detective work.

Documents also claim that police singled out McWoods early on in the investigation because he has a history of hurting children.

In 2011, he pleaded guilty to criminal mistreatment and assault charges in the abuse of his son.

McWoods faces three counts of murder by abuse plus manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, criminal mistreatment and tampering with a witness.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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