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Duluth Man Arrested in Death of Baby Daughter

Updated: 07/30/2014 10:44 PM
Created: 07/30/2014 2:49 PM WDIO.com

Duluth police officers have arrested a man in the death of his 14-month-old daughter.

Police say the girl was already dead when officers arrived at a residence in the 700 block of North 9th Ave. East at around noon on Sunday, July 6.  They had received a medical call from Peterson about the baby not breathing. The baby's mother was also there at the time of the 9-1-1 call, according to police.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office determined the manner of death was homicide by suffocation. The arrest came more than three weeks after the incident.

"Investigations take a long time," Deputy Chief Ann Clancey, with the Duluth Police Department, said. "We want to make sure that we are thorough."

The baby's father, 29-year-old Christopher Dennis Peterson, was arrested Wednesday morning and has been charged with unintentional second-degree murder. The Saint Louis County Attorney explained the charge Wednesday.

"This is an offense called felony murder," County Attorney Mark Rubin said. "While committing a felony, you caused the death whether you intended to or not."

Peterson is the sole suspect in this case.

The criminal complaint said that Peterson made a statement to law enforcement, that he would frequently become frustrated with the baby's crying, and in order to stop her from fussing, he would suffocate her by placing his hand over her mouth and pinching her nostrils closed until she stopped.

According to the complaint, he also told police that he'd done this 5 or 6 times in the past as well at the night before the baby was found dead.

Peterson indicated to police that he did not intend for the baby to die, noting that when he did this in the past, she would always start breathing again.

"It's a very tragic situation and extremely tragic for one family member to be responsible for the death of another," Clancey said.

Rubin said there's a chance Peterson could face a more severe charge if evidence merits it. That would require a grand jury.

Rubin also said Peterson has a lengthy criminal record including domestic assault and escaping custody.

Peterson will be in court Thursday.

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