Jury convicts Litchfield man of abusing infant son, causing brain damage

A Litchfield man has been convicted by a jury of first-degree assault for the injuries suffered by his infant son in 2017. He was accused of causing severe and irreparable brain damage on the 5-month-old child.

Daniel Martinez Damian.jpg
Martinez Damian

LITCHFIELD — A Litchfield man has been convicted of causing permanent, severe brain damage to his 5-month-old son in November 2017.

On Friday, a Meeker County jury convicted Daniel Martinez Damian, 26, of first-degree assault causing great bodily harm.

Martinez Damian is to be sentenced Jan. 2 and is in custody at the Meeker County Jail. Prosecutors have argued for a sentence longer than required in state sentencing guidelines because of the age and vulnerability of the victim.

Martinez Damian was charged in January 2018 with causing injuries to the infant.

According to court records, the child and a sibling were in Martinez Damian’s care on Nov. 7, 2017, when the baby was taken to Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield with a pulse but unresponsive.


After a CT scan revealed a cerebral bleed, the child was taken to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. He underwent emergency surgery to remove a portion of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain.

According to court records, the infant, who was just beginning to roll over, had been in the care of his father after his mother went to work in the morning.

Martinez Damian reportedly told authorities that the baby was fussing in an infant swing and continued to fuss when his father put him down for tummy time.

After putting the baby back into his swing, Martinez Damian went to fix a bottle. When he returned, he said, the baby had arched his back, and his eyes were rolled back, according to court records. Martinez Damian said he shook the baby gently and called his name. He did CPR on the baby, who began to breathe again in about 15 seconds, and then called a relative for a ride to the hospital.

Martinez Damian told authorities he’d had two or three beers that morning and admitted to shaking the infant gently to wake him up, according to court records.

A child abuse pediatrician reportedly found no medical cause for the child’s severe neck and brain injuries and said that trauma was the mostly likely explanation for the child’s injuries.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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