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Fridley man sentenced to 25 years in prison for 5-month-old son's death

WCCO digital update: Afternoon of June 24, 2024
WCCO digital update: Afternoon of June 24, 2024 01:26

FRIDLEY, Minn. — A 24-year-old Fridley man was sentenced to over 25 years in prison on Monday for the death of his infant son early last year.

Aaron Rathke was convicted of second-degree murder in May.

According to court documents, Rathke took his child, Kaiden Rathke, to the Fridley Police Department on March 1, 2023, after the boy stopped breathing. The boy did not have a pulse and later died at the hospital.

Rathke told law enforcement that he had come home from work and was changing his child's diaper when he started vomiting and stopped breathing. Rathke said he then pushed on his baby's chest but was unsuccessful in getting him to breathe again.

Documents state that Rathke said the child's mother had called him earlier in the day to say his eyes had rolled back into his head and he had stopped breathing. Rathke said that when his girlfriend pushed on the baby's chest, he started to breathe again.

He said he didn't call an ambulance because there had been previous incidents with the baby in which they were able to "bring him back." He added that the baby would sometimes "forget to breathe." 

A few days later, he provided another statement to law enforcement in which he said he sometimes hugged his child "a little too hard," but denied ever dropping or bumping the baby into anything.

The child's mother said in a statement that the baby had stopped breathing around noon that day. When she sat up and pressed on his chest, he started to breathe again.

In August, the child's mother told police that Rathke had killed their child. In late September, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner determined the baby's cause of death to be multiple blunt force injuries, and the manner of death was a homicide.

In October, the child's mother told law enforcement that she had initially been scared to come forward because Rathke had been abusive to her, charges say. She said that Rathke would put their child to sleep by placing pressure on his throat, causing him to pass out. She added that she'd seen Rathke "choke" their baby when he was three months old

Rathke was sentenced to 306 months in prison with 256 days credit for time served.

For anonymous, confidential help, people can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

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