Only a few months after learning that he is the father of a 2-year-old boy in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, former University of Oklahoma standout Adrian Peterson is left to grieve the violent death of the child.
The toddler, identified only as T.R.R. was left in the care of his mother's boyfriend, Joseph Robert Patterson, 27, who lived with them. At approximately 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Patterson called 9-1-1 to report that the child was choking. When emergency responders arrived, according to a witness, Patterson greeted them, yelling, "He's not responsive."
Aggravated Assault and Battery Leads to Death
When the child was transported to a hospital, it became apparent that the injuries were not accidental. According to police, Patterson had hit the child in the head with a steel rod. He was arrested on complaints of aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant, charges which carry a potential sentence of 40 years in prison and an $80,000 fine.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was notified of his son's injuries and went to Sioux Falls to be with his child, who was in critical condition, on Thursday. On Friday, the family removed life support, and T.R.R. died. Charges against Patterson are expected to be upgraded to murder this week. (/practice-areas/homicide)
Prosecutors called Patterson a flight risk and a danger to the community, pointing to a history of violence and abuse, and his bond was set at $750,000.
Defendant Had Prior Abuse Convictions
At the time of T.R.R.'s death, Patterson was serving a suspended sentence in a prior domestic abuse case. He was indicted last year on multiple counts of misdemeanor assault against a former girlfriend and her 3-year-old child as well as violating a protective order. The victim said that Patterson "spanked" her child so hard that she had to ice the injury, and when she complained, he grabbed her by the throat and threatened to kill her. In light of the new charges, prosecutors have asked a judge to revoke Patterson's suspended sentence.
Patterson was also the subject of a protective order filed by another woman in 2004.
The child's mother is not under investigation for criminal charges related to the incident. She was not present at the time of the child's injuries.
In Oklahoma, however, if the mother should have reasonably known a person to be a danger to a child and left the child in his or her care anyway, she could have been charged with enabling child abuse, a crime which carries the exact same penalties as child abuse, or actively inflicting harm on the child. State statutes describe a child abuse death as first degree murder, and whoever enables or allows the abuse that leads to the death of a child would likewise face a murder charge.
Read more about Oklahoma child abuse law on our website or click here for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.