Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Michael Anthony Herkal, age 33 of Burnsville, pled guilty today to Murder in the Second Degree (Without Intent to Kill) in connection with the death of his 13-day-old son Anthony Herkal on August 12, 2018. Judge Kathyrn Messerich sentenced Herkal to 290 months in prison. This was an upward departure from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
On August 12, 2018, the Apple Valley Police Department officers responded to a medical call that a 13-day old infant was not breathing. Upon arriving at the Apple Valley residence, law enforcement was unable to detect a pulse and observed that the infant was turning purple. Officers and paramedics began life saving measures and the infant was taken to Fairview Ridges Hospital where it was determined that he was suffering from a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain. The infant was transferred to Children's Masonic Hospital where he ultimately died of these injuries on August 14, 2018.
The infant's mother informed law enforcement that she had left her newborn son with Michael Herkal after an argument earlier that day. She told police she started receiving texts from Herkal at approximately 6:30 p.m. that the infant would not stop crying and needed her. Herkal initially told police that his toddler had pulled the infant off the couch on two separate occasions. Later Herkal changed his story and told investigators that the infant slipped out of his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change. During the plea hearing, Herkal admitted that he also slapped and violently shook the newborn.
A forensic examination of Herkal's cell phone revealed that Google searches were conducted approximaltey one hour and twenty minutes prior to the 911 call, which included: “someone threw a baby on the floor"; “baby breathing hard"; “noisy baby breathing: what's normal and what's not"; and “babys butt is blue s[p]anking".
Initial charges of felony Assault and Malicious Punishment of a Child were filed against Michael Herkal on August 14, 2018. After the infant died of his injuries and the autopsy report was received by the County Attorney, three additional charges of murder were filed on August 23, 2018.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint at Criminal Complaint Search. Prior news releases are available at County Attorney News Releases. While in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search
Backstrom commented: “We are pleased to have held Michael Herkal responsible for his role in this violent and tragic case that claimed the life of this helpless infant. Our sympathy is extended to the family for their great loss."
Backstrom praised Assistant County Attorneys Deanna Natoli and Mary Russell, who prosecuted the case. Backstrom thanked the Apple Valley Police Department and the Dakota County Electronic Crimes Unit for their thorough investigation of this case.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.