BRECKENRDIGE, Minn. — A Breckenridge man charged with killing his toddler son entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder Friday, July 19, in Wilkin County District Court.
Tracy Brant, 36, was charged in early 2018 with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault of a victim under 4 and malicious punishment of a child for the death of Winter Sky Barker found dead in his family’s apartment on April 10, 2018. During a plea hearing Friday, Brant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, causing the death of another while committing a felony, as part of a plea deal.
According to the agreement, the other five felony charges will be dismissed should the deal be accepted. Part of the agreement is that Brant would serve an aggravated sentence. Normally, a second-degree murder charge carries the penalty of 180 months without an aggravating factor. However, because the victim was 3 years old and vulnerable, the sentence would be increased to 300 months, or 25 years.
The defendant was represented by Steve Bergen and the prosecutors are Carl Thunem, Wilkin County attorney, and David Miller, assistant attorney general for the state of Minnesota.
Thunem explained the decision to drop five of the charges as part of the agreement.
Four of the felony charges, including first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child, are charges which carry a lesser penalty than the second-degree murder charge which Brant pleaded guilty to as part of the agreement.
He explained that if these charges had stuck it would not have changed the penalty if Brant was convicted of the first- or second-degree murder charges.
“Most, if not all, (of) those charges would have automatically dismissed as lesser included offenses were the defendant convicted on the first or second charge,” Thunem said.
He explained that before the guilty plea, there was only speculation as to who was responsible for Winter’s death. There had been other possible explanations for what or who caused the victim’s death.
“Now that we know what caused his death and who caused his death, we’re better positioned to move forward to hold other people accountable,” Thunem said.
Barker, 3, was found dead in his home on April 10, 2018. The medical examiner found the cause of death to be chemical peritonitis from perforation of the stomach due to blunt force trauma and the manner of death was listed as a homicide.
Brant made his initial court appearance on April 19, 2018.
He has been held at the Wilkin County Jail since his arrest. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by the Hon. Charles Glasrud, who is presiding over the case.
The sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.