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Lundberg pleads guilty to causing infant's death

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Timothy Kenneth Lundberg, 31, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Beltrami County District Court to second-degree murder without intent, a serious felony.

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He was convicted in relation to the high-force head trauma of a 7-month-old boy Dec. 18.

Beltrami County Assistant Attorney Annie Huseby said Judge Paul Benshoof set Lundberg's sentencing for Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Lundberg remains in custody in Beltrami County Jail.

Huseby said Lundberg not only pleaded guilty to the crime, but also to two aggravating factors: that the victim was particularly vulnerable because of his age and that the perpetrator was in a position of authority or trust to facilitate the commitment of the crime.

The state recommended an upward departure in sentencing from the standard 165 months in prison to 206 months, Huseby said, because of the aggravating factors and because Lundberg was on probation in relation to a stay of adjudication on a previous judgment.

According to the criminal complaint:

At 5:08 p.m. Dec. 18, Beltrami County Law Enforcement officers were summoned to the Brenda Hertel-Lundberg residence at 5653 Alps Court N.W. on a report of an unresponsive infant.

The baby, Ayven Jayce Shepard, was taken to North Country Regional Hospital emergency room where he was diagnosed by a doctor as having massive left side head trauma. He was air-lifted to Minneapolis Children's Hospital. The baby remained there in a coma for several weeks and died Feb. 4.

The baby's mother, Kristin Shepard, had hired Brenda Kala Hertel, 22, and Lundberg to care for him and another child from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The mother reported that Ayven was happy and healthy when she left him with the caregivers the morning of Dec. 18. Hertel had been out of the home most of the day, returning shortly before 4 p.m. when the baby had already been injured. The mother received a call at 5:07 p.m. from Hertel saying she couldn't wake the baby. Hertel asked if she should call 911, and the mother told her to do that.

As part of the investigation, a physician at the Minnesota Resource Center also evaluated Ayven's condition in relation to physical abuse and reported, "The baby has sustained devastating, life-threatening head trauma, including a large subdural hematoma, a major brain injury. ... These findings are consistent with violent, high force trauma. Injuries this severe have caused the baby to be symptomatic immediately or very shortly thereafter the traumatic event. His overall prognosis remains extremely grave."

Hertel pleaded guilty April 20 and was sentenced June 7 in Beltrami County District Court for an amended charge of gross misdemeanor neglect or endangerment of a child. The original charge was for felony neglect of a child, resulting in substantial bodily harm.

Beltrami County Sheriff's investigators determined that Hertel was aware of the baby's condition at about 4 p.m. Dec. 18, but she didn't call law enforcement for more than an hour. The Minnesota resource Center physician reported that the baby's injuries increased during the hour he went without medical care.

Judge John Melbye sentenced Hertel to one year in jail of which 363 days were stayed for two years. She must serve one day on Sentenced to Serve; given credit for one day served; she is to serve 30 consecutive days on the STS crew. If at any time she is not able to report to the STS crew, she must report to the jail to serve 30 days. She was placed on two years of supervised probation; comply with all diagnostic assessment recommendations; comply with Beltrami County Human Services and CHIPS case; take medications prescribed by a doctor at the correct dosage and frequency; not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18, with exception to her children; no contact with codefendant; restitution reserved; remain law-abiding; complete cognitive skills training and pay a fine of $3,083. She must also complete 100 hours of community work service for indeterminate period.

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