Man pleads guilty in 4-year-old’s death; will serve 30 years

A 26-year-old man pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday in the 2013 child-abuse death of a 4-year-old Burnsville boy.

William Alphonso Warr
William Alphonso Warr

William Alphonso Warr, 26, pleaded guilty in the June 11 death of Key’ontay Miller Peterson, who lived with his mother at 31 Horizon Heights in northeast Burnsville.

As part of a plea agreement Warr will serve 30 years in prison, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a news release. The sentence is an upward departure from state sentencing guidelines because of the victim’s vulnerability, Backstrom said.

“We are pleased to have brought William Warr to justice for this violent crime which claimed the life of a defenseless child,” he said.

Warr pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while inflicting bodily harm on a person protected by a protection order.

In January 2014 a grand jury indicted him on four counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder.

Key’ontay died of complications from blunt-force injuries to his abdomen and chest, the Hennepin County medical examiner ruled. He was found to have multiple bruises in his head, face, arms, chest and back, and eight broken ribs — breaks that occurred on at least two occasions.

Police and paramedics responding to the family’s townhouse complex on June 11, 2013, found Key’ontay dead on the floor of his bedroom. Warr was allegedly trying to flee in a vehicle when responders arrived. He struck the side of a garage while trying to leave the parking lot. He told an officer that the “sick” 4-year-old boy in the townhouse was his stepson, who needed to get to the hospital.

Warr fled on foot when asked for his car keys but tripped and fell near the townhouse complex, where he was arrested.

In interviews with police, Key’ontay’s mother, Sha’reese Monique Miller, said the boy had been sick since June 6 with stomach pain and flu-like symptoms. She said that just before she called 911 on June 11 she had tried to give Key’ontay a bath to reduce his fever.

The boy was in the bath when he lost consciousness and stopped breathing, she told police.

She also said Warr had physically assaulted her on multiple occasions.

Further police investigation revealed that in February 2012, a day-care employee had seen an injury on the back of Key’ontay’s head. He told the employee it was from a “whooping” that Warr had given him, according to Backstrom.

The boy sustained a black eye in May 2013 after being alone in the upstairs of the townhouse with Warr. Warr told the mother Key’ontay had hit his eye on a toy box. But  Key’ontay had told another family member that Warr “whooped” him, causing him to fall and hurt his eye.

Warr had an ongoing relationship with Sha’reese Miller despite an order for protection prohibiting him from contact with her, Key’ontay and the boy’s 2-year-old brother, authorities said.