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Bemidji man pleads guilty to April 2020 child abuse charges

Levi James Knutson, 22, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of malicious punishment of a child causing great bodily harm for abuse that happened in April 2020.

Beltrami County Courthouse
Beltrami County Courthouse
Pioneer file photo

BEMIDJI — Levi James Knutson, 22, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of malicious punishment of a child causing great bodily harm for abuse that happened in April 2020, according to a release from Beltrami County Attorney David Hanson.

Knutson’s infant son was brought to the emergency room on April 1, 2020, with several fractures to his legs and arms. After a thorough investigation, it was discovered that the injuries to the baby were not accidental and were in fact indicative of child abuse, the release said.

Knutson entered his guilty plea before the Honorable Shari Schluchter. During the plea hearing, Knutson admitted to causing a dozen fractures to the arm, legs, collarbones and ribs of his 6-week old son over multiple incidences of assaultive conduct.

Knutson testified that on at least one occasion he heard and felt a bone break. Knutson stated that he treated his child like a “Stretch Armstrong doll,” the release said.

After Knutson pleaded guilty, Judge Schluchter ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for June 1, 2022, in Beltrami County District Court.

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Knutson was prosecuted by Assistant Beltrami County Attorney Sara Westrum.

"I would like to thank all of the hard-working members of the Bemidji Police Department for their excellent investigation in this matter," Hanson said in the release. "I would also like to thank all of the staff of the Beltrami County Attorney’s office who put in many hours on this matter."

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