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$500,000 bail set for father in child’s suffocation death

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DULUTH -- Bail was set at $500,000 Thursday in District Court in Duluth for a man accused of killing his 14-month-old daughter by suffocation.

Christopher Peterson, 29, allegedly suffocated the girl in an attempt to get her to stop crying at bedtime so he could smoke marijuana, according to criminal filings in the case.

He is charged with second-degree unintentional murder in the July 5 incident, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Police arrested him Wednesday.

St. Louis County prosecutor Jessica Fralich argued for the $500,000 bail, calling Peterson a “prior escapee” for running from offenses in Wisconsin in 2006 and 2009. She argued that he was both a flight risk and a threat to the community for a history of offenses such as automobile theft, credit card fraud and the assault on the mother of his children, for which he is serving probation.

When asked by the judge to provide his address, Peterson said, “I’m homeless,” before giving his parents’ address in Hibbing for the purpose of mail correspondence with the court.

Peterson was represented by a temporary public defender, who said his client and parents were considering hiring outside counsel.