ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota man convicted of killing his infant daughter seven years ago has been released from jail after winning a new trial with evidence pointing to accidental suffocation as the cause of death.

Michael Hansen, 34, served six years of a 14-year sentence for second-degree murder in the death of his 3-month-old daughter, Avryonna Hansen, until a judge overturned his conviction based on evidence presented by the Innocence Project of Minnesota. Hansen was released Thursday from the Douglas County Jail in Alexandria after posting bail. He faces a new trial beginning in late September.

Minnesota Public Radio News first reported Hansen’s release and new trial.

Defense attorney Bridget Sabo of the Innocence Project of Minnesota said Friday that independent medical experts found that the baby likely died of accidental suffocation while she slept on her stomach on a futon with blankets and pillows near her father and 3-year-old sister. Seven years later, Sabo said parents are now routinely told to put infants to sleep on their backs without blankets or pillows, as part of a public health campaign to reduce sudden infant deaths.

At the original trial, Ramsey County Medical Examiner Michael McGee called the death a homicide, pointing to a skull fracture before Avryonna died. Sabo said the fracture was likely caused by a fall from a shopping cart six days before the death, and medical experts enlisted by the Innocence Project concluded that the fracture was healing.

“Sudden infant death is a very reasonable explanation, a medical explanation for how she died,” Sabo said.

Neither McGhee nor Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson immediately returned voice mail messages seeking comment Friday.

Hansen walked out of the jail on Thursday, looking skyward and giving his mother, Debra Meyer, a big hug. He told MPR he was looking forward to time with his family and a home-cooked meal.

Reached Friday at a family cabin, Hansen said he is eager to reconnect with his two children and put his life back together.

“I want to get back to work and see my kids and just get all this taken care of,” Hansen said. “I don’t want my daughter to be remembered this way, and that’s what’s most important for me.”

Sabo said the Innocence Project agreed to look into Hansen’s case after his original appeal was denied and he sent the organization a letter asking for help. The group asked five doctors to review the autopsy report, including two medical examiners, an emergency medicine physician, a forensic pathologist and an expert in child abuse.

Sabo said she hopes the new evidence will clear Hansen’s name.

“He’s always been absolutely committed to his children. That’s part of the real tragedy of this case. He’s never been able to grieve his baby properly,” she said.

The new trial is scheduled to start Sept. 26.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (10)
  1. Momma of 2 says:

    I never clamined to be a rocket scientist, but IF the babies skull was fractured that doesn’t sound like suffocation to me. Just sayin’.

    I hope the father of this precious child is innocent and not just getting lucky here. What a horrible, horrible thing to experience. As a parent myself, I can’t imagine the heartache and pain of losing a child. And then to be sentenced for their death, IF you are truly innocent. What a torture process!!!!

    Fly high little angel …

    1. jeff says:

      i have to agree, the head trauma thing doesn’t look good. how can they come to a definitive conclusion if the baby died from suffocation on it’s own or if it was forced? certainly a fracture on it’s skull would lead one to believe it was on purpose.

    2. em0886 says:

      They are referencing the skull fracture to an incident that happened prior to her death when she fell…granted they should have taken her in to the ER for a fall like that but they weren’t saying that the skull fracture was related to her suffocation….

  2. tatter says:

    Didnt you see what they concluded. They said that the fracture was healing. That means that the suffocation and fracture didnt happen at the same time.

    1. jeff says:

      this article was greatly expanded since i posted. i read the whole thing and there is a lot of new info in here.

    2. em0886 says:

      Thank you….some people just can’t seem to read the whole article and then act as if they are smarter than the experts.

  3. limonade+whisky=? says:

    i hate this Somalians send him back

    1. em0886 says:

      What does that have to do with anything?! If you are going to take the time to post something on here why don’t you at least say something halfway intelligent.

  4. Pundit says:

    Prosecutors are paid to prosecute.

    They will prosecute anyone, guilty or not.

  5. Sage Lucio says:

    Really informative article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

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