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Minneapolis Teen Charged As Adult In Beating Death Of Toddler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The teenager who admitted to stomping and kicking his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter, killing her, will now stand trial as an adult.

Eighteen-year-old Cody Feran-Baum was 17 when he was accused in the beating death of Sophia O'Neill. He was babysitting O'Neill in June at his grandparents' Minneapolis home while his girlfriend was away. The toddler died while in his care.

Barbara Whetstone replays in her mind how her grandson could have killed the child.

"Question mark over and over again. I don't know why. I just, poor baby, poor baby. Whatever happened to her, I'm sorry Sophia," Whetstone said. "We would never have thought anything like this would happen. Cody loved Sophia, too."

The criminal complaint details an interview with Feran-Baum after the girl's death. He admits when O'Neill would not stop crying, he snapped, kicked her in the back, then put her face down and stomped on her back.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says Feran-Baum said he just could not stand it.

"He did a whole group of serious and horrible things to this child who was 2-years-old," Freeman said.

The medical examiner says she died as a result of multiple blunt force trauma to her body.

"This is a pretty solid case that he brutally and cruelly killed this little girl," Freeman said.

Both O'Neill and Feran-Baum were known to Child Protective Services. Custody documents obtained by WCCO show Feran-Baum's parents were in and out of jail. He saw his mom foam at the mouth and twitch on the ground during an overdose. And he reported he was starving.

Whetstone tried to and did get custody of her grandson.

"I don't mean to downplay anything about Sophia because that poor little baby, I loved her very much, but Cody was a victim, too. He really didn't have a chance in life," Whetstone said.

Freeman says he does not feel sympathy for Feran-Baum.

"Frankly, it really doesn't matter. He brutally murdered this child. You can't blame that on your upbringing. You're responsible for your actions," he said.

A judge set bail at $1 million. Freeman says often in cases like this, a plea deal will be made.

Whetstone says she has fought for Feran-Baum his entire life, and she will continue to be by his side.

Feran-Baum faces a charge of second-degree murder without intent while committing a felony. He could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.


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