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Kelbel Case: Present Pattern Of Child Abuse

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Facts. Kailyn Marie Montgomery died due to child abuse by internal injuries to her abdomen while under the supervision of appellant Kyle John Kelbel. The District Court of Minnesota found Kelbel guilty of first and second-degree murder, past pattern of child abuse.

Issue. Kelbel argued that the District Court failed to instruct the jury that it must find that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the acts that constituted in the past pattern of child abuse against Kailyn. He also argued that the evidence used to prove that he committed a past pattern of child abuse against Kailyn was insufficient.

The District Court cited Minnesota’s 609.185(5) statute that states “A person is guilty of first degree murder when the causes of death to a minor is child abuse and he or she has engaged in a past pattern of child abuse upon which the child’s death occurs”. Kelbel argued that the language “past pattern of child abuse” in the statute creates several elements and that every element of a crime must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction of first-degree murder.
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Held. The Minnesota State Supreme Court acknowledged the District Court’s ruling and found the evidence to be sufficient.

Conclusion. The Minnesota State Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the District Court’s ruling is appropriate. The statute does not require evidence of child abuse in order to obtain a conviction. The court’s decision to reject Kelbel’s argument is acceptable as Kailyn was two-years-old at the time of the abuse, incapable of reporting how she sustained her

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