Jurors have convicted a man charged in the killing of a 7-month-old Brooklyn Park girl in an attack that lacerated the little victim’s liver and left many of her ribs broken.
Authorities had alleged that Chris M. McMorris unleashed his rage while caring for Trinity Shelby at the child’s home after learning that he was not the baby’s biological father.
McMorris was found guilty Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court of second-degree murder in connection with the killing at a home on Sumter Circle N. on March 24, 2016.
Jurors also found there were aggravating factors that the judge can consider when sentencing McMorris, which could mean a much longer prison term. Those factors are: the girl’s age and inability to defend herself, that McMorris was the baby’s primary caregiver at the time of the attack and that the defendant failed to report the beating to 911.
Prosecutors alleged that three days before that assault, McMorris’ girlfriend — the baby’s mother — had received the results of a paternity test confirming that McMorris was not the biological father, and that’s when signs of abuse first surfaced.
When the mother dropped Trinity off at day care that morning, staff members noticed two burst blood vessels in the child’s eye. The next day, day care workers noted fresh bruising and scratches on her cheek. They found more on the baby’s back while changing her clothes March 23.
Each wound was documented, and workers reported their findings to Hennepin County Child Protection. The mother could not provide an explanation for the injuries, telling investigators that the baby had suffered from a cold but was otherwise healthy, according to court records.
On March 24, the mother left the baby alone with McMorris instead of bringing her to day care. When responders arrived at the home, the baby was on the ground. McMorris said she had stopped breathing and began vomiting, but he provided no explanation for what caused the distress, the criminal complaint against him read.
Along with the liver injury and 11 broken ribs, an autopsy by the Hennepin County medical examiner found that the baby died from blunt-force injuries to her abdomen.
Before this case, McMorris had no serious offenses on his criminal record in Minnesota. He remains jailed pending sentencing on Feb. 6.