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Charges: Man Fell Asleep While Baby Drowned In Bathtub

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 28-year-old Fridley man is accused of child neglect after falling asleep on his couch while his daughter drowned in a bathtub in their Fridley apartment, according to charges filed Friday in Anoka County Court.

Joseph Edward Martin, Jr., was charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter and one count of child neglect in connection with the Oct. 31, 2011 death of a 1-year-old baby.

According to a criminal complaint, Fridley Police were called at about 4:12 p.m. that day to the 5800 block of East River Road on a report of a baby who was not breathing after being left in a bathtub. When authorities arrived, paramedics were performing CPR on the baby.

Martin Jr. told police he was the father of the baby and that he had put the child and another child in the bathtub at about 3:45 p.m. He left the bathroom to go watch TV and use his cell phone, but said he could see the bathroom from where he was sitting and was watching the girls from there, the complaint states.

He said he then accidentally fell asleep and then woke up about 30 minutes later after he heard the baby’s older sister screaming. He ran into the bathroom to find the baby face down under water and not breathing, according to the complaint. Authorities said the baby was in about eight or nine inches of water at the time.

The baby was transported to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, where she was put on life support because she couldn’t breathe on her own and had no brain activity. She was removed from life support on Nov. 11, 2011, and died later that day.

If convicted on both offenses, Martin Jr. faces up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

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