Top stories 2009: No. 10, Man charged in toddler's tragic death
When a Cannon Falls toddler died in July while in the care of her mother's boyfriend, all people could think about was Jessica Swanson.
Swanson went missing in 1995. Her body was found four years later in rural Goodhue County after her mother's boyfriend, Dale Jenson, admitted to shoving her into an entertainment center, where she supposedly hit her head.
Fast forward to 2009.
Cannon Falls police were called in July to the house of Justin Lake, where his girlfriend's daughter was inside, unconscious and unresponsive. Lake said the 2-year-old had fallen off a bed.
Jazymn Weiker-Hanson would die four days later -- July 5 -- at St. Marys in Rochester just days before her third birthday. Doctors there said her injuries appeared to stem from abuse -- not a fall.
Lake, 29, was initially charged with first-degree assault and malicious child-punishment.
After reviewing an autopsy report, Goodhue County prosecutors in October amended those charges to second-degree manslaughter and neglect or endangerment of a child. According to the final autopsy report, the manner of her death was undetermined. The cause of death is listed as "traumatic closed head injury" and "likely assault," according to the amended criminal complaint filed in Goodhue County District Court.
Weiker-Hanson had been in Lake's care when she suffered her fatal injuries. Lake first told police she was injured after bouncing off a bed. He later changed his story, telling investigators that she was hurt while the two were playing, according to the amended complaint.
Lake is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. Jan. 22 for an omnibus hearing.