Sitter charged for boy’s death

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2001

A 17-month old boy’s babysitter has been charged with murder after an autopsy showed the child died from extreme child abuse.

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

A 17-month old boy’s babysitter has been charged with murder after an autopsy showed the child died from extreme child abuse.

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Paul Gutierrez Jr., 27, of 505 Johnson St., cried as Third District Court Judge James Broberg read the second-degree murder charge in court


Makaio Lynn Radke died sometime early Saturday morning, police believe. He had suffered extensive trauma to his chest and abdomen, and had broken ribs, punctured lungs and a lacerated liver. He had severe bruising over most of his body.

The death could not have been accidental, the Freeborn County Coroner told police.

Gutierrez allegedly abused Radke while he was watching the child, his three-year-old sister, and Gutierrez’ one-month-old daughter Friday night. Gutierrez was babysitting the children while their mothers went shopping, court records say. He had been staying at the residence off and on since early February.

Friday morning, a visiting Freeborn County child protection social worker had detected no signs of abuse, records say. She noted only that Radke appeared to have a cold, three small bruises and a healing injury on his foot.

County Attorney Craig Nelson said he didn’t know why a child protection worker visited the home Friday, but he is reviewing previous allegations of abuse in the home. Child Protection Services Department Supervisor Ted Laird refused to comment.

Police have responded to several calls of domestic incidents this year at the residence, but Gutierrez and the children were never involved, Albert Lea Police Assistant Chief Dwaine Winkels said.

Gutierrez has lived in Albert Lea, Austin and Hollandale for most of his life, but should still be considered risk to flee, Nelson told the court Tuesday. He has failed to appear in court before, he said. He has been arrested in Freeborn County for driving while intoxicated in 1998 and 1995, for trespassing in 1997 and felony theft in 1993.

&uot;I believe that Mr. Gutierrez is a flight risk,&uot; Nelson said. &uot;I do believe he poses a threat to this community and to himself.&uot;

Gutierrez’ bail was set at $750,000.

While police aren’t yet certain what happened in the home after the protection worker left, Gutierrez’ proximity to the child Friday and early Saturday morning is the basis of the murder charge, Nelson said.

&uot;We reasonably believe he was the caretaker for the child for 18 of the 22 hours preceding the child’s death,&uot; he said. &uot;Further investigation will shed greater light on what actually has happened here.&uot;

The other children in the home showed no signs of abuse, but have been placed in protective custody, Nelson said.

Gutierrez has denied abusing Radke and said he did not notice any injuries on the child while he was caring for him, but said Radke had been fussy that night, according to the criminal complaint.

Radke’s mother returned shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, but did not notice the injuries until later that morning, police said.

The two women had made no particular observations of Makaio Radke after their return to the house, as he was supposedly sleeping in his bed, according to the criminal complaint.

Saturday morning, Peggy Radke checked on her son and saw he was blue and cold to the touch, court records say. She and her roommate Kristine Baker immediately drove him to the emergency room, but the boy was already dead. Police are waiting for final autopsy reports to give a more precise time of death.

Law enforcement received a 911 hangup from the residence shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, police said. When dispatchers called the residence, a man who refused to identify himself said there was no longer an emergency, as the baby had been taken to the emergency room at Albert Lea Medical Center.

Albert Lea police officers went to the house, but Gutierrez allegedly left out the back door when they arrived. He was located and arrested at another residence at about 9:49 p.m.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension finished processing the crime scene and released the house to occupants Tuesday morning. They will continue to assist local police in the investigation. About 50 police reports had been written as of Tuesday afternoon, based on 30 interviews with friends, family and neighbors, Winkels said.

Nelson may seek a first-degree murder charge or other lesser charges as more information becomes available.

&uot;This may well be the final deal, but it may be the start of other things,&uot; Nelson said. &uot;All I can charge is murder in the second degree, and I did charge that.&uot;

Gutierrez’ next court appearance is scheduled for May 7 at 3:30 p.m. He has requested a public defender.