Kortan Makes First Appearance in Suspected Shaken Baby Murder Case

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A Red Lake Falls Woman continues to be held “without the possibility of bail” after being charged yesterday with Second Degree Murder in a case of suspected “shaken baby syndrome.”

During a court hearing Thursday, District Judge Tamara Yan ordered 30 year old Sarah Kortan held without bail in the death of the 2 month old baby girl, left in her care while the biological mother, Kortan’s cousin, is incarcerated at the Women’s Prison in Shakopee.

In addition to the death of the infant, Kortan is also charged with first degree assault, third degree assault, and intentional felony malicious punishment of a child, resulting in great bodily harm.

According to the criminal complaint, the Red Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call June 20th from a female, later identified as Kortan.

Deputies arrived at the Prairie Rose Apartments on the 200 block of 9th Street South-West in Red Lake Falls, around 6:30PM, to find the infant girl unresponsive.

Officers, who began resuscitation efforts before Red Lake Ambulance arrived on the scene, noticed bruising on the infant’s face and a white foamy substance coming from the girl’s nose.

The child was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center in Thief River Falls, where staff were able to resuscitate the infant but advised deputies that the child had little or no brain activity and appeared to have symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The child was then transported via life flight to Sanford Fargo, where doctors announced brain death, placing her on a ventilator. The baby girl died June 22nd after being taken off of life support.

According to the criminal complaint, Chief Deputy Brad Johnson spoke with Kortan, who said she had dropped the baby a few days earlier, with the child’s head striking the stove and floor.

Pathologists at the University of North Dakota say autopsy results show the infant suffered multiple skull fractures, retinal hemorrhages and detachment in her eyes; injuries inconsistent with an accidental fall, but with a physical assault.

Investigators say Kortan had been soliciting on Facebook, in-home day-care at her apartment. Authorities say she had been providing care for two other children from Thief River Falls, ages 8 and 12, who were present at the time of the alleged abuse.

The next appearance for Kortan has been scheduled Wednesday, July 11th, in Red Lake County District Court.

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