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Baby drowned in Fridley as dad slept, charges say

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH
  • Star Tribune
  • August 17, 2012 - 10:34 PM

A Fridley man is accused of putting his 11-month-old and 3-year-old daughters in a bathtub and then nodding off on a living room couch while watching TV, during which time the younger girl drowned.

Joseph E. Martin Jr., 28, was charged Thursday in Anoka County District Court with second-degree manslaughter and child neglect. Martin was charged by summons and is scheduled to appear in court next week.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Oct. 31, 2011, Martin put 3-year-old Allie and 11-month-old Maddie in the tub of their apartment in the 5800 block of East River Road and fell asleep on the couch.

Martin awoke to Allie screaming that Maddie had fallen in the tub and wasn't moving. Maddie was taken to Children's Hospital of Minneapolis and was removed from life support 11 days later.

The father told police that after putting the girls in the tub he went to the living room to watch TV and use his cellphone, adding that he could still see inside the bathroom.

Moments later, Martin said, he nodded off until hearing Allie's screams and ran into the bathroom to find Maddie face down in what investigators later determined to be 8 to 9 inches of water. Martin then called 911.

Allie told authorities that Maddie was crying to get out of the tub when she fell.

The complaint contends that Martin's position on the couch allowed him only "a view of the center of the tub."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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