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Amy Chaffins, Forum News Service, Published August 01 2013

Starbuck woman charged with murder

GLENWOOD, Minn. – A Starbuck woman has been charged with murder in the death of her fiance’s son.

Amanda Lea Peltier, 31, was charged July 24 in Pope County Court with one count of second-degree unintentional murder in the death of 4-year-old Eric Parker Dean.

Eric was the son of Sommar Kemp, of Glenwood, and David Dean, of Starbuck. Peltier was reportedly David Dean’s live-in fiance at the time of the boy’s death.

According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 27, at 11:41 p.m., emergency crews were called to Peltier’s Starbuck home where they found Eric unresponsive. The boy was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital that night but died early the next morning.

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, when initially interviewed, Peltier denied harming Eric in any way. However, in a later interview, 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 Feb. 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 Feb. 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 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.”