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3-year-old Pine County boy dies; suspect in beating now charged with murder

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The man charged with beating his girlfriend's 3-year-old son is now facing murder charges after the boy was taken off life support over the weekend.

Jonathan Michael Loun, 31, was charged Monday with three counts of second-degree murder in the death of 3-year-old Dante Sears, the Pine County Attorney's Office said in a news release.

Dante died Saturday morning, and on Sunday the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by blunt force injury to the head, the criminal complaint says.

Loun was previously charged with first-degree assault, malicious punishment of a child and third-degree assault involving a victim younger than 4 years old after Dante was found unconscious and bleeding in his crib.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Aug. 24, Loun was babysitting Dante and his 7-year-old brother while their mother was working when he became upset and "extremely violent" with the child.

When the boy's mother returned home the next morning, she found a note from Loun that said he "snapped" and "banged his head on the floor." Dante was in his crib, unconscious and bleeding. Loun was not at the home.

Dante was transported to Minneapolis Children's Hospital on Aug. 25. Tests revealed he had a skull fracture, bruises and injuries to his neck and penis, which doctors concluded were associated with "severe physical child abuse."

Following a search, investigators arrested Loun in a wooded area of northwest of Pine City Tuesday evening.

Dante was placed on life support pending organ donation. He died Saturday morning.

Dante's organs will go to help two other people, a family friend told the Star Tribune. A Give Forward page set up for Dante's family has raised more than $6,000 of its $8,000 goal.

Loun remains in jail. His bail has been set at $2 million without conditions, the release notes.

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