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Man accused of injuring infant son

A man who previously was convicted for causing the death of his 7-week-old son is expected to be sentenced next month for allegedly injuring his 6-week-old son last year.

Kristian James Donnell, 30, of Red Lake, is expected to be sentenced on Aug. 6 for felony neglect or endangerment of a child. He remains in custody in the Beltrami County Jail.

Donnell was convicted on April 6, 1998, for unlawful killing of a human being without malice and served 51 months. He pleaded guilty in U.S. Federal Court for the death of his 7-week-old son.

The charge he now faces stem from injuries his 6-week-old son suffered in October 2006. The infant was diagnosed with having shaken baby syndrome, according to the criminal complaint.

Donnell originally was charged in January 2007 with first-degree assault, but the charge was amended earlier this month to felony neglect or endangerment of a child.

According to the criminal complaint, a Bemidji Police Department officer was at North Country Regional Hospital at 9:15 a.m. Oct. 14, 2006, when three adults admitted a 6-week-old baby boy. The officer received information from hospital staff that they believed the infant had trauma consistent with shaken baby syndrome, the complaint said.

The mother, one of the three adults who brought the child in, was interviewed and said that baby had a tendency of rearing his head back while taking a bath, the complaint said. She further stated that Donnell was giving the child a bath - his baths are given in the kitchen sink as they do not have a bathtub - when the infant reared his head back and struck it on the counter top, the complaint said.

The mother told the police officer that the sound of the child's head striking the counter top was not loud, and did not seem serious until about one hour later when he had labored breathing, the complaint said.

The officer then spoke with a doctor, who said the injury the mother described was inconsistent with the injury the baby had, the complaint said. The doctor said there was blood in the back of the infant's head, and also stated there was evidence of an older, similar injury in the same region of his head, the complaint said.

The infant was airlifted to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, where doctors informed an investigator that boy's MRI showed brain contusions and evidence of extensive injury, including an anoxic injury, the complaint said. The report from the hospital showed that the child had seizures and an abnormal EEG, and retinal hemorrhages more pronounced on the right side than the left, the complaint said. The child had no skin or scalp injury and a bone survey was negative, the complaint said. The doctors concluded that the infant had "classic findings of abusive head trauma, commonly known as shaken baby syndrome," the complaint said. Further, doctors said the child's skull fracture would probably place the child in the category of shaken impact syndrome, according to the criminal complaint.

The doctors gave the infant a poor prognoses and said the child had evidence of recent injury as well as old injury as seen on CAT scans and the MRI, the complaint said.

The mother permitted two police officers to enter the home and examine the area where the child was given a bath on Oct. 14, the complaint said. They took photographs, which showed the area was inconsistent with the child having recently bathed - there were dirty dishes in the sink and no towels, soap, shampoo or lotion in the kitchen, the complaint said.

On Oct. 18, an investigator and a detective went to the home again to make contact with either the mother or the father to get a statement, but no one answered the door, although they did note the presence of a vehicle registered to them, the complaint said.

They then received reports about an investigation between April and July of 1998 involving an investigation on the Red Lake Indian Reservation; the investigation reports regarded the investigation into Donnell and his involvement in the death of his 7-week-old son in 1998 in which he pleaded guilty, the complaint said.

The investigator and the detective went to Donnell's parents' home and were told to leave the property; the detective gave them his card and asked them to tell their son to contact him, the complaint said.

When Donnell called police he said that on Oct. 10, he was changing his son's clothing when he lost his grip on the infant and he fell from his sitting position, striking his head on the table, the complaint said.

The mother told police that the child had a routine check at the doctor's office on Oct. 10 and everything checked out OK, and said that Donnell was changing the child on Oct. 11 when the infant fell backward and hit his head, the complaint said.

She said the boy was acting like an ordinary child on Oct. 12 and 13 and was cooing and following her voice, but on Oct. 14, he began to act strangely and would straighten out and let out a loud cry, so she decided to take him to the hospital, the complaint said.

She told police the child was not given a bath on Oct. 14, the complaint said.

The child since has improved and now is in the care of his maternal grandparents; he still has seizures, the complaint said.