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Charge: Minnesota baby dies after abuse; father looked on Google for excuses

Booking photo of Michael Anthony Herkal, 32, of Apple Valley, who is charged with first-degree assault against his infant son. (Courtesy of the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office)

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. -- An infant boy has died two days after his Apple Valley father was arrested on suspicion of child abuse.

Michael Anthony Herkal, 32, told police his 2-year-old son had twice pulled the 13-day-old boy off a couch, according to an Apple Valley police narrative.

Police say Herkal then said he had squeezed the squirming infant while changing his diaper and that the boy slipped out of his hands and onto a coffee table.

A review of Herkal’s cell phone showed he had made several Google searches about 80 minutes before calling 911 on Sunday.

They 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 sanking” [sic].

Herkal appeared in court Tuesday on charges of first-degree assault and malicious punishment. His son, Anthony Herkal, was on life support at the time but since has died, according to Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom.

“It is heartbreaking that the serious injuries suffered by this helpless infant have now led to his death. On behalf of everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case, I want to express our deepest sympathy to Anthony Herkal’s family,” Backstrom said in a news release.

According to police, the infant’s mother had argued with Herkal before leaving the home Sunday. Around 6:30 p.m., Herkal began sending her text messages that the baby wouldn’t stop crying and needed her.

Herkal called the mother at 7:22 p.m. and told her the baby would not wake up. The mother then called 911. Herkal also placed a 911 call and said the baby was limp and not breathing.

Police found the baby on the living room floor, blue and with bruises and no pulse. They began chest compressions and had him transported to Fairview Ridges Hospital.

He later was moved to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital because he could not breathe on his own. The child had a skull fracture and blood on his brain. He died Tuesday.

Bail was set at $1 million or $750,000 with conditions, Backstrom’s office said. The prosecutor intends to bring additional charges now that the child has died.

In the past two years, Herkal has been convicted of domestic abuse-related charges on five different occasions: once for interfering with a 911 call and four times for violating protection orders.