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Man pleads to murder charge in 14-month-old daughter's death in Cottage Grove

Angel Daniel Ramirez said he was upset with his crying 14-month-old daughter so he threw a cup at her eye, causing her to fall and get injured.

Two days later as the girl’s injuries worsened and after Ramirez became upset with his girlfriend, he punched their child in the stomach and later punched her in the back of her head with his knuckles, he admitted to Cottage Grove police.

The baby was found dead the following morning. A medical examiner concluded she died of homicide by multiple blunt force traumatic injuries.

Ramirez, 21, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty Sept. 6 to second-degree unintentional murder in his daughter’s March 2014 death.

Ramirez was charged in September 2014 with second-degree unintentional murder, but a Washington County grand jury convened in July 2015 indicted him on two counts of first-degree murder.

One of those first-degree charges remains against him but will be dismissed at his Nov. 17 sentencing, Assistant Washington County Attorney Karin McCarthy said.

Ramirez faces a 36-year prison sentence, 24 years of which must be served in prison. That is an upward departure from state sentencing guidelines due to “severe” aggravating factors, McCarthy said. Those include the girl’s age, the nature of her injuries and that she was particularly vulnerable.

According to police and court records: Police were called to an 84th Street home the morning of March 15, 2014, for a report of a 1-year-old girl who was not breathing. They found the child on the floor unresponsive; she was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

The girl’s mother was visibly upset as she told police she found her child not breathing that morning. She denied hurting her daughter and said the child had been injured days earlier when, according to Ramirez, the girl fell into a door frame.

The girl’s injuries got worse, the mother recalled to authorities, and she and Ramirez’s mother took the child to an urgent care clinic on March 14. The mother was told to take the child to a hospital to have her injured eye evaluated, but she said Ramirez fought against that. He later told police he didn’t want to bring her to the hospital because he was tired.

Ramirez put the girl to bed that evening. Twice that night, Ramirez later told police, he punched the crying child. He left for work the following morning, and the girl’s mother found her unresponsive in her crib a short time later.

In recorded messages five months after the death, Ramirez admitted to the girl’s mother that he had hit the child but denied repeatedly punching her. He also admitted to abusing the girl on prior occasions. He later admitted punching and assaulting her when questioned by police.

Asked by the mother why he had hit their girl, Ramirez replied: “Because I’m stupid.”

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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