Man faces murder charge in shaking death of toddlerby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Dakota County Attorney's office has charged a Northfield man with the death of his 17-month-old stepson.
Tylar James Hokanson, 22, faces one felony count of murder in the death of Nicholas Miller, who died on June 23 -- four days after Hokanson apparently shook him hard enough to cause the boy's injuries.
"The death of a child under circumstances of alleged abuse such as this is deeply disturbing," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. "This case remains under investigation at this time."
The criminal complaint filed Wednesday with the Dakota County Attorney's Office said Hokanson, 22, admitted to shaking Nicholas, days before the boy died from multiple injuries that included damage to his brain.
An autopsy by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office found the boy had died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries. It also showed the boy had a cracked skull and multiple rib fractures.
The complaint said Hokanson admitted that on June 19 he shook Nicholas "back and forth" by grabbing him by the shoulders after the boy had started throwing a fit. Hokanson told investigators he had been angry because his wife's sister had been mean toward him.
By Saturday, Nicholas did not want to stand on his feet, eat or play with his toys, according to the complaint. At lunch time, the boy refused to eat pizza, one of his favorite foods, and later "appeared to be crying for no reason," according to the report.
On Sunday, the boy appeared to be pale, would not lift his arms and would not use his legs at all. His mom told investigators he looked like a "noodle" and simply sat on the furniture most of the day, leaning his head back.
Hokanson and his wife had gone to the home of Hokanson's mother and stepfather in Maiden Rock, Wis., on Monday, and called 911 the next day because the child was having trouble breathing.
Nicholas was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital in Durand, Wis.
Hokanson is currently being held at the Dakota County Jail. His bail was set Wednesday at $500,000, or $350,000 if he agrees to not contact Nicholas' family. Hokanson's next court appearance is July 27.