Fridley father pleads guilty in infant's death

A father charged last fall in the death of his infant son has now pleaded guilty.

Aaron Rathke, 23, pleaded guilty on Tuesday afternoon in the disturbing case. The investigation into Rathke started on the night of March 1, 2023, when Rathke had brought his baby to the Fridley Police Department.

Rathke was trying to get medical help for the child, who wasn't conscious. Officers tried to revive the infant, but he was ultimately rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

When questioned why he hadn't called for an ambulance instead of going to the police department for help, Rathke didn't have a good answer.

According to the criminal complaint, Rathke admitted the child had stopped breathing earlier in the day but had been revived by the child's mother. The father hadn't sought medical help until around 7 p.m. that day when Rathke said the infant passed out again.

Months later, police became aware of some concerning text messages the child's mother had sent to family members, accusing Rathke of killing the baby. The charges stated that police interviewed the child's mother in September. During that interview, she alleged that Rathke would apply pressure to the infant's neck to put him to sleep, by making the child pass out.

In previous interviews, Rathke had admitted the baby was struggling to sleep.

Rathke wasn't charged until October 2023, after an autopsy report was finalized.

According to the guilty plea petition, Rathke will plead guilty to second-degree murder charges and is expected to get a 25.5-year sentence. He could have faced 40 years behind bars if the case had gone to trial.