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SD stepfather charged with killing 18-month-old boy with six blows to the head

DELL RAPIDS, S.D. - A 36-year-old stepfather has been charged with murder after he apparently delivered six blows to the head of his 18-month-old stepson in Dell Rapids, a small town about 25 miles north of Sioux Falls near Interstate 29..

DELL RAPIDS, S.D. - A 36-year-old stepfather has been charged with murder after he apparently delivered six blows to the head of his 18-month-old stepson in Dell Rapids, a small town about 25 miles north of Sioux Falls near Interstate 29..

Keith Cornett apparently had been left at home alone with the child when the incident occurred during the late morning and early afternoon on Wednesday.

Cornett was staying at a home being rented by Michael Brown, 23, and Mikayla Wilson, 21. That couple had allowed Cornett, his wife, Kristine, 22, and her 18-month-old son, Hayden Wigton, to live with them temporarily.

Brown, Wilson and Kristine Cornett apparently left the home about 10 a.m. on  Wednesday to go to Sioux Falls.

Brown and Wilson returned home about 12:35 p.m. and immediately called 911 when they found the 18-month-old unresponsive.

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The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department and Dell Rapids fire and ambulance responded to the scene. Upon arrival at the home in the 200 block of East Third Street, deputies noticed the child had obvious trauma.

Emergency workers were unable to to resuscitate the child, the sheriff’s department said in a release on Thursday.

Cornett was still in the home at the time,  the sheriff said.

An investigation followed and an autopsy was performed Thursday.

Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Arron McGowan, who was at the autopsy, has charged Cornett with first degree murder, second degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of child abuse, one count of possession of marijuana and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

McGowen said that the autopsy report found six blows to the child's head and bite marks,

Bail was set at $2 million for Cornett at a hearing Thursday.

The homicide was the second in Dell Rapids in the past 30 days. Alex Wittenberg was arrested in mid-November after he was accused of shooting and killing Jonathan Puttmann as a result of a domestic dispute, also in a residential neighborhood.

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Related Topics: CRIME
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