Murder charges filed in death of infant

An Isle man is facing murder charges following the death of a 16-month-old boy due to alleged child abuse.
Clint S. Bearce, 20, 2295 370th St., Isle, is being held in the Mille Lacs County Jail after being charged in district court with second-degree murder (without intent), second-degree manslaughter (culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk), and first-degree assault causing great bodily harm. All three charges are felonies. If convicted on the murder charge, Bearce faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.mug crime Bearce
A criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District Court alleges that the 16-month-old was injured on March 21 as a result of Bearce throwing the child up in the air, causing head trauma. Photos taken at an Onamia hospital showed visible bruising on the child’s neck, the complaint states. The child came into the Onamia Hospital suffering from cardiorespiratory arrest.
As a result, the child had breathing difficulties, which resulted in the child’s mother telling Bearce to call 911. The child was transported to Mille Lacs Health System Hospital and later airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis where two days later the child was declared brain dead and taken off life support.
According to the complaint, doctors at Children’s Hospital told Mille Lacs County investigators that the child had suffered a brain injury with bleeding on the brain, retinol hemorrhaging and bruising on the neck. The cause of the injuries appeared to be non-accidental trauma, medical personnel told investigators.
Mille Lacs County investigators interviewed the child’s mother at the hospital. She stated that she, Bearce and her two young children did nothing out of the ordinary that day. They ran some errands and later went to the home of Bearce’s mother, where they set up a playpen so the 16-month-old could nap.
She said Bearce went to change the child’s diaper soon after the two arrived at the home of Bearce’s mother. About 10 minutes later Bearce allegedly called out to her. She went into the room and saw that her child’s eyes were rolling back and the child was short of breath. They called 911 and the child was taken to the hospital. That’s where the mother says she was told her child suffered head trauma.
Bearce was also interviewed at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. He confirmed the account of the child’s mother. He added that while changing the child’s diaper, the boy began having a “fit” because he didn’t like having his diaper changed. Bearce stated that he then put the boy on a bed in the bedroom while he turned on the television. The child was happy and smiling, Bearce told investigators. A few moments later, when Bearce said he went to put the child in the playpen, the child started arching his back. That’s when he said he called for the child’s mother.
Three days later, investigators heard a different version of the story while interviewing the mother’s father. The child’s grandfather stated that Bearce stopped by his home after leaving the hospital on March 21. Bearce allegedly told the grandfather that he had thrown the child up and down a few times before trying to lay the child down.
During a follow-up investigation with Bearce on March 25, he admitted to throwing the child up and down a few times and demonstrated the act using a doll, the complaint states.
On April 2, investigators received the child’s medical records from Children’s Hospital that stated, in part, “The most likely cause for (the child’s) demise was trauma. The bruising raises concern for conflicted injury and that child abuse must be far and away the most likely diagnosis.”
The trauma more likely occurred immediately prior to the unresponsiveness, the report continued.
On April 9, Bearce was interviewed again. Bearce reiterated that he didn’t do anything to hurt the child, but later agreed during questioning that he may have thrown the child fast and hard.
“But I loved him,” Bearce told investigators.
Bearce also reiterated that the child was happy and laughing up until he threw the child in the air.
An investigator then asked Bearce if he was forceful.
Bearce shook his head affirmatively, the complaint states, and he then began to cry.
Asked if there was anything else that could have caused a seizure, Bearce allegedly answered no.