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Charges: Northern Minnesota man bit, abused infant son before boy's death

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A northern Minnseota man is charged with second-degree murder after the death of his infant son, whom medical staff found had a list of serious injuries at the time of his death, including fractures to his skull and ribs, WDIO reports.

Emery James Jenkins, a 38-year-old from Inger, Minnesota, was arrested Thursday and charged the following day. His 10-week-old son died Oct. 17, one day after a 911 call reported the boy was not breathing.

At the time of the call, authorities say they were told the infant had been bitten by a neighbor's dog days earlier, and fallen off a swing just prior to that, according to the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

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The paper reports during the autopsy, the medical examiner found the child had suffered "blunt force trauma" and had sustained numerous physical injuries, including: multiple rib fractures, a skull fracture, and cuts or abrasions to the chest, abdomen, hands, feet, fingers and toes.

Police then spoke with the child's mother, who said they had made up the story about the dog, and Jenkins had bit the boy multiple times because he wouldn't stop crying, Northland's NewsCenter reports.

The station says Jenkins is being held without bail. A second-degree murder conviction carries a prison sentence of up to 40 years.

Child protection services scrutinized

Minnesota's child protection system has been under intense scrutiny since a Star Tribune investigation into the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean.

Dean died while in the care of his stepmother Amanda Lea Peltier, 31, in February of 2013, at her home in Starbuck in western Minnesota. She subsequently was convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

But the report found childcare workers reported a total of 15 times they suspected the boy was being abused. Only one incident was investigated.

That investigation prompted the creation of a Task Force on the Protection of Children, the goal of which is to figure out what’s wrong with Minnesota’s Child Protection Services system – and what needs to be done to fix it.

The task force held a meeting in Duluth Tuesday, in which social workers there criticized the state’s “overwhelmed” system, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

In the second in a series of state-wide meetings discussing improvements to Minnesota’s child protection practices, childcare workers said caseloads are too large and staff overworked, according to WDIO.

Also an issue right now, according to the Star Tribune, is a law passed this spring which prevented child protection services from using rejected child abuse reports when deciding whether to pursue a new report

MPR News reports two of the state legislators on the task force – Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis and Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato – said at the first meeting their voters are upset about the law. Mullery said it was “buried” in the middle of a 30-page bill, and he missed it before voting on the measure, MPR says.

Earlier this month, the Star Tribune reported counties took no protective action (“screened out” is the term used) on more than 70 percent of the 68,000 reports of child neglect or abuse last year – the third-highest rate in the country.

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