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Dilworth man pleads guilty to murder in death of baby girl

ADA, Minn. – A 25-year-old Dilworth man pleaded guilty this morning to a charge of second-degree murder connected to the death of his girlfriend’s 22-month-old baby girl.

Raul Perez admitted in a plea hearing in Norman County District Court that he caused the death of Ariel Reyes on Aug. 29, 2012, while attempting to commit or committing a malicious punishment of Reyes, Norman County Attorney James Brue said in a news release.

A sentencing hearing was set for Sept. 9. Prosecutors intend to seek a longer prison sentence than the state guideline, which runs from 12½ to 20 years – depending on an offender’s prior criminal history.

The criminal complaint filed against Perez in February alleged that the baby stopped breathing while he was watching her and her 5-year-old brother as their mother shopped for groceries.

Ariel Reyes died two days later in Fargo’s Sanford Medical Center, where doctors noticed her chin, jaw, thigh, tailbone, forehead and armpits were all visibly bruised.

An autopsy declared the death a homicide caused by head and neck trauma. A medical examiner stated in the complaint that the type of injuries the toddler had could not have been self-inflicted or come at the hand of the 5-year-old.

Perez, who denied striking the baby girl, according to court records, had been set last week to change his earlier not guilty plea. He instead fired his attorney and asked the court to appoint a public defender.

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