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Grygla man faces murder charge in 4-month-old son's death

A Grygla, Minn., man was charged with murder Thursday in the death of his 4-month-old son.

An autopsy showed that Damien Marsden's son, Rylin, died of "traumatic head injuries due to physical assault," including a fractured skull, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office said in a news release.

Investigators determined the boy suffered his injuries Aug. 2 at Marsden's home in Grygla. The baby died Aug. 8 at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo.

According to a criminal complaint, the boy's mother told investigators she left Rylin with Marsden for about half an hour while she ran errands on the afternoon of Aug. 2. Shortly after she returned, Rylin started vomiting and choking, the complaint states.

The complaint says Marsden called 911, and an ambulance took Rylin to a Thief River Falls hospital. From there, the boy was airlifted to MeritCare, where a doctor found that he had experienced a seizure and suffered trauma to the right side of his head.

Marsden and the boy's mother told investigators Rylin could have received his injuries when he tipped over from a sitting position the morning of the day he was taken to the hospital or when he fell out of bed the evening before. Rylin seemed OK after those incidents, the parents told authorities.

Investigators found that Rylin's bed was about 2 feet above a carpeted floor and that there was a tack strip securing the carpet to the floor about 10 inches from the bed. The carpeting was a half-inch thick, the foam underneath was also a half-inch thick, and beneath that was plywood, the complaint says.

The doctor who did the autopsy and a doctor specializing in child abuse pediatrics said Rylin could not have suffered his injuries by tipping over from a seated position or by falling out of bed onto the tack strip, the complaint states. The child abuse specialist said Rylin's injuries suggest that "severe rotational or shaking force was applied to his head," the complaint reads.

The doctors told investigators Rylin would have shown symptoms soon after being injured. Marsden "was the only person with Rylin during the 30 minutes before he started showing symptoms," the complaint states.

Marsden, 31, was arrested Wednesday and appeared Thursday in state District Court.

He is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree murder while committing child neglect and second-degree murder while committing child endangerment. Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

A judge set Marsden's bail at $40,000 cash. He remained in custody Thursday evening, a Marshall County jail spokesman said.

A phone message left after business hours Thursday for Marsden's attorney was not returned. A message left for Marsden at the jail was not returned, either.

Spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said the state attorney general's office is handling the case. County attorneys will sometimes hand off cases to the attorney general's office because of concerns about workloads and costs of prosecuting certain cases, she said.