John Douglas Peterson offered authorities multiple versions of how his 5-week-old daughter suffered severe head injuries on Nov. 18 at their home in Palisade, Minn., according to court documents filed in Aitkin County District Court.
Peterson first said the baby was lying on her back on a blanket on the floor when she gasped and began having trouble breathing. Then he said he’d accidentally dropped her while she was fussing and she hit her head on the kitchen sink. Later, he told two different stories about the infant falling from his arms and hitting her head on the sink and the floor.
Doctors said the baby’s injuries, including a skull fracture and subdural bleeding, were from abuse. She died Nov. 21 at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital.
It wasn’t until three weeks after his daughter’s death that Peterson told authorities that he had lost his temper when the baby wouldn’t stop crying and threw his daughter “like a basketball approximately 12 feet through the air into the kitchen.” The baby, identified in a criminal complaint as R.J.P., hit the floor and skidded on her back before hitting her head on a bottom lip of the cabinets.
Peterson, 33, was charged Wednesday in Aitkin County with felony second-degree murder in his daughter’s death. He is being held in the county jail and will make his first court appearance Thursday. His criminal history contained only a few traffic and vehicle infractions.