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Father charged with murdering 13-day-old son

Michael Herkal stands charged with first-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child, but those charges will likely be amended to murder after the child died on Tuesday.
Michael Herkal is charged with first degree assault, but it could soon be elevated to murder as his infant son is not expected to survive injuries Herkal is accused of calling.

HASTINGS, Minn. - A Burnsville man has been charged with murder after authorities say he inflicted life-threatening injuries on his newborn son, who later died.

Thirty-two-year-old Michael Herkal of Burnsville was charged Thursday with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the Aug. 14 death of Anthony, who was just two weeks old when he was injured in Apple Valley.

A criminal complaint details how police were dispatched to a residence in Apple Valley around 7:30 p.m. August 12 on reports of a child not breathing. When they arrived officers found little Anthony Herkal not breathing and unresponsive, with no pulse. They also noticed bruises on the infant's body.

First responders immediately began CPR and were able to revive the tiny boy. He was rushed to Fairview Ridges Hospital and then transferred to Children's Masonic Hospital because he is unable to breathe on his own. Doctors say Anthony has a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.

When questioned by officers Michael Herkal, told them his two-and-a-half-year-old son had pulled the baby off the couch and onto the floor twice. After the second fall, he claimed to notice Anthony was gurgling and changing color. After finally reaching the child's mother by phone Herkal dialed 911.

An interview with the baby's mother revealed that she and Herkal had argued earlier in the day, and after feeding him she left the residence. She told investigators Herkal started calling her around 6:30 p.m telling her the child wouldn't stop crying and needed her.

The defendant was interviewed a second time at police headquarters and reportedly changed his story, saying while changing a diaper the infant slipped out of his hands and fell onto a coffee table. A search of Herkal's phone turned up searches that included "someone threw a baby on the floor," "Baby breathing hard," and "Baby's butt is blue."

“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,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.