A newborn died and his father was charged with inflicting the brain injuries that led to his death.
Before his 13-day-old son died, Michael A. Herkal, 32, of Burnsville, was charged Tuesday in Dakota County District Court with first-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child. Once autopsy results are released, the charges are expected to be upgraded to reflect the death of Anthony Herkal.
“It is heartbreaking that the serious injuries suffered by this helpless infant have now led to his death,” said County Attorney James Backstrom.
The infant’s mother, Jamie Keener, was not at her Apple Valley home when the baby was injured Monday. According to the charges, Keener called 911 about 7:30 p.m. and said the baby was not breathing and that Herkal had called to tell her their son would not wake up.
Police officers found Anthony on the living room floor near the couch. They saw that his lips were blue, his extremities were turning purple, he lacked a pulse and showed no signs of breathing. They also saw bruising “on various parts” of his body.
At the hospital, an examination revealed a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain.
Herkal initially told police that Anthony had been on the couch and Herkal’s 2½-year-old son pulled him off the couch twice within about 10 minutes.
Keener told police that she and Herkal argued earlier in the day and she fed the baby in the garage to avoid him. Keener turned the baby over to Herkal when she left. About 6:30 p.m., Herkal started texting her to say their son “would not stop crying and needed her,” the complaint read.
Questioned again by police, Herkal said he squeezed the baby’s body while changing his diaper and that was why the infant had bruises on his buttocks. Herkal added that Anthony “slipped out of his hands” and fell onto a coffee table in the living room.
Investigators found internet searches on Herkal’s cellphone that included, “someone threw a baby on the floor,” “baby breathing hard,” “noisy baby breathing: what’s normal and what’s not.”
Michael Herkal’s criminal history in Minnesota includes four convictions for violating domestic abuse no-contact orders, five for drug possession, and one each for check forgery, harassment and disorderly conduct.
Herkal remains jailed in lieu of $750,000 bail ahead of a court appearance scheduled for Aug. 23.