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Grand jury indicts western Minnesota father with first-degree murder in son's death

Tracy Norman Brant

BRECKENRIDGE, Minn.—A grand jury handed down an indictment of first-degree murder in Wilkin County District Court Thursday, Aug. 22, against a Breckenridge, Minn., man in the death of his son earlier this year.

Tracy Norman Brant, 35, is facing a total of six felony charges relating to the death of 3-year-old Winter Sky Barker, who was found dead in his family's Breckenridge apartment April 10.

Wilkin County State's Attorney Carl Thunem said a grand jury was convened after a request from the state.

"A grand jury had to be convened because the state believed there was probable cause for charges to be filed against Mr. Brant for first-degree murder, a pattern of domestic abuse."

A first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence if the defendant is found guilty.

Authorities allege the victim suffered from repeated physical abuse the last several months of his life.

Brant lived in an apartment with his girlfriend, Ramona Shortman, along with their three shared children.

The victim had previously been living in South Dakota with his mother, Korey Finley, who lost custody of their son after she was incarcerated on drug charges in January 2018. Brant was awarded full custody of the victim at that time.

Three other children living in the apartment — ages 2 months, 14 months and 28 months — were examined by medical professionals at the time of the victim's death, and no signs of trauma or abuse were found, documents said. However, shortly thereafter, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe assumed physical custody of the children.

Brant was arrested one week after the child's death and has been held in Wilkin County Jail since that time.