MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A northern Minnesota man facing manslaughter charges in the death of a baby in a house fire last week told investigators that he left the child home alone to buy meth when the building caught fire.

Jesse Bonacci-Koski, 24, of Hibbing, is charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter in the death of his 11-month-old nephew, court documents filed in St. Louis County say. Bonacci-Koski also faces charges for vehicle theft and drug possession.

According to a criminal complaint, Bonacci-Koski was watching his nephew on the morning of Aug. 2 in his brother’s Tower home when he left child alone. In an interview with investigators, he said he’d left for about two hours to buy meth. When he returned and saw fire trucks, he fled.

The fire had flames coming from the home’s first floor and heavy smoke pouring out of the second floor, the complaint states. About an hour after arriving on the scene, emergency workers pulled the baby’s body from the building. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

The medical examiner’s office said the child had soot in his esophagus, stomach and upper and lower airways, the complaint states.

After fleeing his brother’s home, Bonacci-Koski dumped his drugs in a parked car, stole a different vehicle and ran into a swamp. He also left his brother’s family dog in a parking lot.

Bonacci-Koski was eventually arrested after being found in the woods off Highway 169 in Pike Township. There was also an outstanding felony warrant for his arrest.

If convicted of the manslaughter charges, Bonacci-Koski faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each count.


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