ST. CLOUD (AP) -- A Stearns County jury on Thursday found a Watkins man guilty in the October 2000 death of his 14-month old son.
The jury deliberated for about a day before deciding Michael Patrick Asfeld, 25, was guilty in the suffocation of his son, Dominick, at their home in Cold Spring.
Asfeld and his family sobbed as the verdict was announced. He was taken to prison to await sentencing on Jan. 17 by Judge Skipper Pearson. He faces life in prison.
Asfeld took the witness stand Tuesday to deny harming his son. He blamed his former girlfriend, who was Dominick's mother.
Asfeld was charged with first- and second-degree murder in the boy's death and first-degree assault in a shaking incident in December 1999, when the boy was severely injured. The jury found him guilty on all counts.
Asfeld testified his son's death sent him into a deep depression and that he considered suicide during an episode last January in which police were called to his parents' home in Watkins, where he was then living.
Assistant Stearns County Attorney Mary Yunker told jurors Asfeld killed his son because he didn't want to be burdened with child support, restricted living arrangements and other conditions imposed on him after he admitted to the shaking incident.
She described him at trial as an absentee parent who became bored with his son after he was injured and left developmentally delayed by the shaking.
The jury foreshadowed the result in a question the jury to Pearson shortly before the verdict was announced.
According to Yunker, jury members asked if they decided Dominick was asphyxiated, whether they had to find that his death was premeditated.
With that question, Pearson ordered Asfeld, who had been free on $200,000 bail, detained. The judge raised Asfeld's bail to $1 million. And 20 minutes later, the jury appeared to deliver the guilty verdicts.
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