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Bemidji man gets 17-year sentence in baby's death

BEMIDJI Timothy Kenneth Lundberg, 31, of Bemidji, was sentenced Monday in Beltrami County District Court to 206 months for the Dec. 18 second-degree murder of Ayven Jayce Shepard. Lundberg stood weeping as Judge Paul Benshoof pronounced judgment....


Timothy Kenneth Lundberg, 31, of Bemidji, was sentenced Monday in Beltrami County District Court to 206 months for the Dec. 18 second-degree murder of Ayven Jayce Shepard.

Lundberg stood weeping as Judge Paul Benshoof pronounced judgment.

Lundberg will serve 137.33 months of the 206-month sentence in prison and 68.66 months on supervised release. He received 203 days credit for time served. He must also submit a DNA sample, pay restitution and fine and costs of $133 out of prison earnings.

Lundberg pleaded guilty to the serious felony Sept. 14.


Benshoof accepted his plea Monday convicting Lundberg in relation to the high-force head trauma of the 7-month-old baby boy. Lundberg also pleaded guilty to two aggravating factors: that the victim was particularly vulnerable because of his age and that the perpetrator was in a position of authority or trust to facilitate the commitment of the crime.

The state recommended an upward departure in sentencing from the standard 165 months in prison to 206 months, said Assistant Beltrami County Attorney Annie Huseby, because of the aggravating factors and because Lundberg was on probation in relation to a stay of adjudication on a previous judgment.

Benshoof said he had no discretion in the sentencing because of the plea agreement worked out among Lundberg, his defense attorney Tom Kuesel and Huseby.

Krysten Shepard, Ayven's mother, struggled for control as she read a victim statement prior to sentencing.

"A mother should never have to bury her infant child," she said, noting that when Ayven died about six weeks following the head trauma inflicted by Lundberg, the family should have been planning his first birthday, not his funeral.

Many in the courtroom wept as Krysten Shepard addressed Lundberg saying, "You murdered my baby."

Lundberg too, was crying. Krysten Shepard said he was crying because he will go to prison, but she is crying because she will never hold her son again.

Lundberg did not speak, allowing his attorney to make a brief statement on his behalf.


"Words can't change what happened," Kuesel said. "He is consumed with guilt for what he did."

However, Huseby said Lundberg wished he would win the lottery so he could give the family some money. Such a statement, she said, shows Lundberg has little understanding of the tragedy he has caused.

Benshoof said he has presided over many difficult cases, but none has "crushed his heart" as the murder of Ayven.

"There is nothing the court can do to repair the damage," Benshoof said.

What happened

At 5:08 p.m. Dec. 18, Beltrami County Law Enforcement officers were summoned to the Brenda Hertel-Lundberg residence at 5653 Alps Court N.W. on a report of an unresponsive infant.

Ayven was taken to North Country Regional Hospital emergency room where he was diagnosed by a doctor as having massive left side head trauma. He was air-lifted to Minneapolis Children's Hospital. The baby remained there in a coma for several weeks and died Feb. 4.

The baby's mother had hired Brenda Kala Hertel, 22, and Lundberg to care for Ayven and another child from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The mother reported that Ayven was happy and healthy when she left him with the caregivers the morning of Dec. 18. Hertel had been out of the home most of the day, returning shortly before 4 p.m. when the baby had already been injured. The mother received a call at 5:07 p.m. from Hertel saying she couldn't wake the baby. Hertel asked if she should call 911, and the mother told her to do that.


As part of the investigation, a physician at the Minnesota Resource Center also evaluated Ayven's condition in relation to physical abuse and reported: "The baby has sustained devastating, life-threatening head trauma, including a large subdural hematoma, a major brain injury. ... These findings are consistent with violent, high force trauma. Injuries this severe have caused the baby to be symptomatic immediately or very shortly thereafter the traumatic event. His overall prognosis remains extremely grave."

Hertel's disposition

Hertel pleaded guilty April 20 and was sentenced June 7 in Beltrami County District Court for an amended charge of gross misdemeanor neglect or endangerment of a child. The original charge was for felony neglect of a child, resulting in substantial bodily harm.

Beltrami County Sheriff's investigators determined that Hertel was aware of the baby's condition at about 4 p.m. Dec. 18, but she didn't call law enforcement for more than an hour. The Minnesota Resource Center physician reported that the baby's injuries increased during the hour he went without medical care.

Beltrami County District Judge John Melbye sentenced Hertel to one year in jail, of which 363 days were stayed for two years. She was placed on two years of supervised probation and must not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18, with exception to her children or contact with Lundberg.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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