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Sandstone Man Charged with Murder in Death of an Infant

A Sandstone man has been charged with second and third-degree murder in the 2021 death of an infant.

According to the criminal complaint, Pine County Sheriff's Deputies were called to the Sandstone home on August 14, 2021, after the three-month-old was found not breathing. The report stated that the victim's grandmother had come home and discovered the infant unresponsive in her father, Dylan Shankey's, arms. It was estimated that she had not been breathing for about ten minutes.

The grandmother reportedly performed CPR on the infant until deputies arrived. They noted that she was unresponsive and blue and performed CPR until Emergency Medical Services took her to the hospital, where she was later declared dead.

The complaint stated that the infant, her parents, and paternal grandparents all lived together, and this was the second time that Shankey cared for the infant alone.

The grandmother told deputies that they had returned home after being gone for several hours, and she had found Shankey sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch with the infant on his chest.

The grandfather reported that he heard his wife tell Shankey, “you can’t hold a baby like that or she won’t be able to breathe," before taking her inside. He said that he did not realize what was happening until he heard emergency sirens.

The victim's mother had left for work earlier in the day and reported that the infant was happy and smiling when she kissed her goodbye. She told deputies that she spoke with Dylan on the phone around 5:30 p.m. that day, and he had been playing with the dog while the three-month-old slept. He reportedly told her that he had fed her outside because of the nice weather.

Shankey was reportedly calm and did not appear upset during the interview with deputies at the hospital. He told law enforcement that nothing unusual had happened with the infant during the day, that he fed her, played with her for a bit, and put her down for a nap. He then picked her up to go outside to throw a ball for the dog about ten minutes before his parents got home.

Shankey reportedly described the infant as a "fussy girl" to deputies. He also said she sometimes cried "like all babies." He explained to law enforcement that the infant had reflux issues and that she wasn't gaining enough weight, so doctors told them to feed her six-to-eight ounces at a time.

An initial autopsy performed on the victim by Dr. Kendra Palmer, M.D., revealed a subdural hemorrhage and optic nerve sheath hemorrhages. The complaint said that the doctor suspected inflicted trauma, specifically violent shaking as the cause of death.

Further conversations with the victim's mother noted that Shankey would not take the infant out of her bassinet while she was sleeping unless she was fussy or needed a diaper change.

In an interview between law enforcement and Shankey on August 16, 2021, Shankey said that he thought the infant had choked on milk because she had thrown it up during CPR.

When asked how he would explain the autopsy results, Shankey said he could not think of anything. However, he did say that he rocked the infant to calm her so she would eat. He told deputies that he may have rocked her too hard, admitting that he had thought that it may have caused her death.

On March 6, 2022, Dr. Ross Reichard, M.D., a neuropathologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, performed an examination on the infant. The doctor noted several injuries to the infant's eyes, brain, and spinal cord.

In a final report released by Dr. Palmer, the doctor determined that the infant's cause of death was a blunt force head injury. Dr. Palmer ruled it a homicide.

According to the complaint, filed on March 17, 2022, Shankey has been charged with second-degree murder - without intent - while committing a felony. The maximum sentence is not more than 40 years in prison. He was also charged with third-degree murder, which has a maximum sentence of 25-years in prison.

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