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Apple Valley father sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to murdering his newborn

Michael Anthony Herkal Photo: Dakota County
Michael Anthony Herkal

Updated: December 11, 2019 05:45 PM

A 33-year-old Apple Valley man entered a guilty plea in a Dakota County courtroom for the murder of his 13-day-old son in 2018.

According to a release from the office of Dakota County Attorney James C. Backstrom, Michael Anthony Herkal pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree (without intent to kill) in connection to the death of his son Anthony Herkal on Aug. 12, 2018. Judge Kathryn Messerich sentenced him to over 24 years in prison (290 months).

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The Apple Valley Police Department responded to a medical call that a 13-day-old infant was not breathing on Aug.12, according to court documents. Upon arrival at the Apple Valley residence, law enforcement was unable to detect a pulse and observed that the baby was turning purple. Officers and paramedics began lifesaving measures, and the infant was taken to Fairview Ridges Hospital, where it was determined that he was suffering from a skull fracture and bleeding of his brain. He was transferred to Children's Masonic Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on Aug. 14, 2018.

New charges filed against Apple Valley man after infant autopsy results released

Law enforcement spoke with the infant's mother, who said she had left her newborn son with Herkal after an argument earlier that day. She told police she started receiving texts from Herkal at about 6:30 p.m., stating the infant needed her and would not stop crying. Herkal initially told police that his toddler had pulled the infant off the couch on two different incidents. However, he later changed his story and told investigators the baby had slipped out of his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change.

During the plea hearing, Herkal confessed to slapping and violently shaking the newborn, according to the news release.

A forensic examination of Herkal's cellphone revealed that Google searches were conducted about an hour and 20 minutes before the 911 call, which included: "someone threw a baby on the floor"; "baby breathing hard"; "noisy baby breathing: what's normal and what's not"; and "babys butt is blue s[p]anking."

Initial charges of felony assault and malicious punishment of a child were filed against Herkal on Aug. 14, 2018. After the infant died of his injuries and the autopsy report was received by the county attorney, three additional charges of murder were filed on Aug. 23, 2018.

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