A Sioux Falls child abuse case has generated national attention because the young victim is the son of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson. The two-year-old boy died Friday and the man accused of assaulting him appeared before a judge.
The Lincoln County State's Attorney isn't saying yet whether new charges will be filed in the case now that the young victim has died. 27-year-old Joseph Patterson has already been charged with aggravated battery on an infant and aggravated assault, both felonies. And even though the victim is Adrian Peterson's son, investigators say the sports celebrity connection shouldn't overshadow the tragedy.
Police say Joseph Patterson was alone with the boy at a southwest Sioux Falls apartment when the assault happened. The medical call came in as a choking. But when the unresponsive boy was taken to the hospital, doctors determined his head injuries were the result of an assault, not an accident.
"They alerted police about their concerns and detectives were called in and detectives ended up talking to quite a few people, trying to figure out exactly what happened to cause the injuries to the child," Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
Patterson was one of those people questioned by detectives and police arrested him Thursday night. Investigators won't confirm that Adrian Peterson is the boy's father, saying their focus is on the victim.
"However, we would ask that you keep this family in your thoughts and prayers as we move through this investigation. As you can imagine, this is an absolute tragedy and the parents and extended family are suffering greatly," Lincoln County State's Attorney Tom Wollman said.
Investigators say Patterson was alone with the boy for only a short time. But it was a long enough to leave the little boy fighting for his life.
The judge set Patterson's bond at $750,000 dollars. The felonies he was charged with Friday carry a maximum of 40 years in prison.