APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — An Apple Valley man has been charged after inflicting harm upon his infant son, who later died of his injuries.
Police say Michael Herkal, 32, was taken into custody Sunday after responding to two 911 calls regarding the child. The first was placed by the infant’s mother, Herkal’s girlfriend, who was not in the home at the time of the assault. The second was placed by Herkal.
Upon arriving to the residence around 7:30 p.m., officers found Herkal’s 13-day-old son unresponsive on the living room floor.
The infant, Anthony Herkal, had begun to turn blue in the lips and purple in his extremities by the time emergency responders arrived. Because Anthony didn’t appear to have a pulse, officers performed CPR and administered an AED. Officers also noticed bruising over many areas on Anthony’s body.
Herkal initially told police his 2-year-old son pulled Anthony off the couch twice. After the first fall, Herkal said Anthony appeared to be fine. After the second fall, Herkal said Anthony was gurgling and began to change colors.
Herkal attempted to reach Anthony’s mother, identified as JK, twice before calling 911. When she asked why he hadn’t contacted the police yet, he told her he was trying to revive the child himself.
During questioning by investigators, Herkal changed his story.
Herkal said he was actually changing Anthony’s diaper when the baby wouldn’t stop kicking, so he squeezed him. He also said Anthony slipped out of his hands and fell onto a coffee table, causing the child’s bruising.
After looking through Herkal’s phone for evidence, police found Google searches for “someone threw a baby on the floor,” “baby breathing hard,” “noisy baby breathing: what’s normal and what’s not,” among others.
Anthony was transported to Fairview Ridges Hospital and then transferred to Children’s Masonic Hospital because he couldn’t breathe on his own. He was subsequently diagnosed with a diffused brain injury as a result of trauma coupled with a prolonged lack of oxygen. Anthony died Tuesday from his injuries.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said once his office receives autopsy results from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, additional charges relating to Anthony’s death will be filed.
“It is heartbreaking that the serious injuries suffered by this helpless infant have now led to his death,” Backstrom said in a statement. “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.”
Herkal is currently charged with first-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child.