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Vikings MVP Adrian Peterson's son died after allegedly being beaten last week by a South Dakota man who was a friend of the child's mother.
Joseph Patterson, 27, of Sioux Falls, has been charged with aggravated assault and battery for allegedly abusing Peterson's 2-year-old son.
What potential punishment could the suspect face if convicted?
Assault Leads to Death of Peterson's Child
Joseph Patterson has been charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery, both of which allege physical injuries under egregious circumstances -- like assaults committed in the home.
Under South Dakota law, aggravated assault is a Class 3 felony that can land a convict up to 15 years in prison. The crime requires that the defendant caused serious bodily injury to another person, under circumstances that display "extreme indifference" to human life.
Reuters reports that the injured boy was admitted to a Sioux Falls hospital on Wednesday after suffering head injuries believed to be caused by abuse. A jury would need to decide if Patterson's alleged blows to the child's head qualified as showing the kind of indifference to human life necessary for the crime.
The 27-year-old suspect has also been charged with aggravated battery of an infant, a Class 2 felony that occurs when a person causes serious head trauma to a child less than 3 years of age. This crime is punishable by a maximum of 25 years in prison -- but with the child's death, Patterson may be facing more serious charges.
More Charges Are Possible
USA Today reports that Peterson visited his son in the hospital on Thursday, a day before the boy died; Peterson still managed to play in Sunday's game against the Panthers. While Peterson remained positive in his affirmation that he'll "be good," prosecutors are still considering more charges for Patterson.
In cases where assault leads to the death of the victim, prosecutors often will consider a second degree murder charge, which is certainly in the realm of possibility after Peterson's son passed away.
Reuters reports that Patterson is currently being held on $750,000 bail awaiting further charges.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.