Minneapolis man sentenced to prison for son's 2022 fentanyl death

A Minneapolis man was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for the death of his 7-year-old son after he ingested a fatal amount of fentanyl. 

Randolph Nelson III was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 195 months at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility on Monday. He was also credited with 101 days for time already served. 

According to court records, Minneapolis police responded to a report of an unresponsive child at a home just after 7 a.m. on Aug. 17, 2022. First responders then determined the 7-year-old boy was dead. 

The criminal complaint states Nelson told police that a family member dropped the boy and the boy’s sister off at his home the day before and that the boy "looked and acted normal" at the time. Nelson said the boy fell asleep on the couch around 10 p.m. and that he carried his son to an upstairs bedroom.  

Nelson said the next morning, around 6:50 a.m., he went to the bedroom and noticed a white substance around his son’s mouth and that his body was stiff. 

Law enforcement noted in the complaint that Nelson was the only adult there, and he was leasing the home. 

Within the next month, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the boy’s cause of death was acute fentanyl toxicity after detecting high levels of the drug in his body and finding no other signs of disease or injury that could have caused his death, court records said.

The complaint states that police then searched Nelson’s home on Sept. 29, 2022, and recovered baggies they say are usually used to store illegal narcotics as well as "several tablets of various colors and shapes." They also noted the strong odor of bleach in the bathroom and seized guns and ammunition from the home. 

Law enforcement officials say field-testing of the tablets showed one tested positive for fentanyl and another for methamphetamine. The criminal complaint states the investigator also noted the appearance of the pills was similar to chewable children’s vitamins.

During another interview on Oct. 3, 2022, Nelson allegedly admitted to using illegal drugs, according to the criminal complaint, and that the pills found in his home on Sept. 29 were his. However, he denied leaving drugs "out" in his home and said he does not use fentanyl. 

Court documents note that Randolph’s previous convictions include drug possession, assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm.