A 31-year-old man has pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend’s 7-month-old son in her central Minnesota home while the boy’s 4-year-old brother watched.
James J.R. Wood, of St. Joseph, Minn., pleaded guilty Tuesday in Benton County District Court to second-degree unintentional murder in connection with the death in October 2018 of Noah Belgarde in Watab Township, in Benton County.
The County Attorney’s Office is seeking a sentence of 25 years. With credit for time in jail since his arrest, Wood would serve more than 15 years in prison and the balance on supervised released.
A medical examiner’s autopsy found the baby suffered several skull fractures and bruising.
According to the charges, the mother called 911 about 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2018, and said her baby was dead. She said that Wood, her boyfriend at the time, had spent the night. When she awoke, she noticed that Wood had left in his car.
When a deputy arrived, she asked her 4-year-old son if he saw anything, “Oh, James hit him,” the boy reportedly said.