A 33-year-old Eagan woman was convicted by a Dakota County jury July 20 with felony first-degree assault (great bodily harm) following an incident in which a 13-month-old boy sustained abusive head trauma while in her care in 2016.
According Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, Eagan police officers and medics responded to a call of an unresponsive baby at approximately 1 p.m. Sept. 22, 2016.
They found an unconscious boy with a pulse and shallow breathing at Mariel Alexandra Grimm’s child care business.
The boy survived, but remained in the hospital for several months and suffered severe and permanent brain damage, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s office.
“We are pleased to have brought Mariel Grimm to justice for this serious crime,” Backstrom said. “Our thoughts are extended to the baby’s parents and family for his ongoing care.”
They boy had been going to the daycare since he was 9 months old.
In the criminal compliant, Grimm reportedly said she was changing the baby’s diaper when he became stiff and unresponsive. She tried to get him to wake up by splashing water on his face, but he remained unconscious.
Grimm contacted the baby’s mother who told her to hang up and call 911.
Grimm later said the baby had been playing on the floor and seemed fine before his nap.
She was the only adult present that morning and none of the other children, who were 7 or younger, appeared to have any unsupervised contact with the child.
The baby was transferred to Gillette Children’s Hospital where he was immediately diagnosed with a massive subdural hematoma.
A medical examiner found the baby to have a severe brain injury that was consistent with abusive head trauma.
It could not have been caused by a short fall or an injury caused by another young child, according to the examiner.
During the trial, the expert testified that the hemorrhage is the type of trauma associated with a violent acceleration-deceleration event such as a high-speed vehicle collision or if a child is violently shaken or thrown.
The neurosurgeon who performed emergency surgery said the child would have become unresponsive immediately or shortly after the head trauma occurred.
When the baby had been dropped off in the morning, neither parent said they had noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Grimm has maintained her innocence throughout the trial.
According to a FundedJustice.com site the child had a seizure and Grimm took a polygraph test showing her innocence.
There are several notes listing the strength of Grimm’s character along several Bible quotes.
The site has raised about $26,500 toward its $50,000 goal.
Backstrom praised Assistant County Attorney Heather Pipenhagen who prosecuted the case. Backstrom thanked the Eagan Police Department and the medical professionals who provided care to this baby.
Judge David Knutson ordered a per-sentence investigation and set the sentencing for Sept. 29.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.