Starbuck woman charged with child's murder
Amanda Lea Peltier, 31, of Starbuck has been charged with the murder of 4-year-old Eric Parker Dean, her fiance's son.
Eric was the son of Sommar Kemp of Glenwood and David Dean of Starbuck. Peltier was reportedly David Dean's live-in fiancee at the time of the boy's death.
Peltier was charged July 24 with one count of second-degree unintentional murder.
According to the criminal complaint, on February 27, 2013, at 11:41 p.m., emergency crews were called to Peltier's Starbuck home where they found Eric with a distended abdomen, no pulse and not breathing.
The boy was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital that night, but died at 2:45 a.m. on February 28.
Hospital staff noted Eric's distended abdomen, bruising and swollen lip were consistent with signs of child abuse, and the boy's body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office.
In a report released June 3 from the medical examiner's office, the boy had suffered multiple injuries to his scalp, mouth, face and lower extremities. The boy's bowel had also been perforated from blunt force abdominal trauma and, according to the medical examiner, that is what caused Eric's death, which the doctor concluded was homicide.
According to the criminal complaint, Peltier was interviewed by Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Ken McDonald on February 28, about 12 hours after Eric died.
When Peltier was asked about the numerous injuries and bruises on the boy's face and head, Peltier reportedly said Eric "... intentionally bangs his head and pulls his ears." She also added that the injuries may also have been caused by other kids biting him and the boy falling off a couch and hitting a table, but she said she had no idea how the boy got the bruise on his abdomen.
Peltier told the investigator she and David Dean had been reported to Pope County Child Protection "lots of times, mostly for bite marks on Eric." Peltier said the boy would always say Peltier did it, but would later blame another child living in the home. Peltier denied harming Eric in any way and said she told the truth and had not left anything out.
However, in an interview with Peltier about one week later, she admitted to the investigator "...that she had been biting Eric on the head, stating that she did so when Eric bit her or frustrated her." Peltier said she had bitten the boy too many times to recall.
When asked about Dean's abdominal injuries, Peltier reportedly stated that on the morning of February 26, "...she was upset with Eric and 'launched' him across the room. Peltier heard Eric hit something but did not see what he hit. Eric began to cry. Shortly thereafter, Eric began throwing up and complaining his stomach hurt."
Peltier also reportedly listed several other incidents that happened February 24-26 that could have caused Eric's abdominal injury - the boy fell off a chair, fell in a doorway, wrestled with other children, fell off a bunk bed, a child jumped from a chair onto the boy, or when one of the kids knocked Peltier down and she fell on Eric.
Eric's day care provider told the investigator she had noticed multiple bite marks and bruises on the boy, photographed them and contacted child protective services.
It was also noted in the complaint that the boy had suffered an arm fracture in July of 2011. Peltier told medical staff the boy had fallen down the stairs.
Dr. Mark Hudson, a child abuse pediatrician for Midwest Children's Resource Center, noted in a report dated June 4 that Eric was "...a victim of multiple episodes of child abuse, especially to his head and face. Dr. Hudson states that an adult biting a child is a relatively uncommon form of child abuse and suggests rather vicious treatment of a child."
According to an obituary on the Starbuck Funeral Home website, "Eric was a very active, curious and fun loving boy. He loved movies especially Cars (Mater was his favorite), Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda and Chicken Run. Eric loved spending time with his family. He loved camping, dancing, fishing, swimming, hiking, animals, bugs and just being outside."