Tougher penalty sought in Lake caseGoodhue County prosecutors are seeking harsher penalties in the case of a man accused of causing a toddler's death last year in Cannon Falls.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County prosecutors are seeking harsher penalties in the case of a man accused of causing a toddler's death last year in Cannon Falls.
A motion filed June 4 by prosecutors calls for a judge to consider aggravating factors in the case of Justin Lake, 30.
The Cannon Falls man was charged with manslaughter following the July 5, 2009 death of 2-year-old Jazmyn Weiker-Hanson.
Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Kuester said if the motion is allowed, a judge could impose a harsher sentence for Lake if he is convicted.
Prosecutors would have to present the aggravating factors to a jury after the verdict. If the jury agreed, a judge could issue an enhanced sentence, she said.
Kuester said that could be a full 10 years.
"We do believe that an aggravated sentence is necessary in this case because of his actions," Kuester said.
According to a criminal complaint, Lake was babysitting the child July 1, 2009 when she received a head injury that doctors said led to her death.
Lake first told investigators that Weiker-Hanson was injured after she fell off a bed while he was in another room.
He later changed his story, telling officers he tended to the child after she fell off the bed, then picked her up and began spinning her.
Lake, who admitted to smoking marijuana shortly before the incident, said the head injury occurred when he lost his footing and slipped on a blanket. Lake said Weiker-Hanson struck her head on a doorknob as he slipped.
Kuester said there are two aggravating factors in the case: That at 2 years old, Weiker-Hanson was particularly vulnerable, and that Lake delayed seeking treatment for her after the injury.
"Her death could have been prevented had he sought medical treatment earlier," Kuester said.
Lake told police that he didn't call 911 after the incident "because he didn't know what was wrong and thought that she had just knocked herself out," the complaint states. He called Cannon Falls Area Hospital later, after phoning the victim's mother.
The next hearing is July 9.