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Man Pleads Guilty To Murder Of His Newborn, Sentenced To 24+ Years In Prison

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- An Apple Valley father has pleaded guilty to the murder of his newborn and was sentenced to over 24 years in prison.

Michael Herkal, 33, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder in the second degree in connection with the death of his 13-day-old son.

Apple Valley Police Department officers responded to a medical call on Aug. 12, 2018 that a 13-day-old infant was not breathing. Law enforcement was unable to detect a pulse and noticed the infant turning purple.

Officers and paramedics began life-saving measures and the infant was taken to Fairview Ridges Hospital where it was determined that he was suffering from a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain.

The infant was transferred to Children's Masonic Hospital where he ultimately died of those injuries on Aug. 14, 2018.

Law enforcement was informed by the mother that she had left her newborn son with Herkal after an argument earlier that day. She told police she received texts from Herkal that the infant would not stop crying and needed her.

Herkal initially told police that his toddler had pulled the infant off the couch on two separate occasions. Later he changed his story and told investigators the infant slipped out of his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change.

Herkal admitted in the plea hearing that he also slapped and violently shook the newborn.

Forensic examination of Herkal's cell phone revealed Google searches before the incident, 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 spanking."

Initial charges of felony assault and malicious punishment of a child were filed against Herkel. But after the autopsy report was received, three additional charges of murder were filed.

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