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Father admits to smothering 3-month-old ‘couldn’t handle any of it.’

Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
Anoka County Sheriff’s Office

Anoka County, MN– A Minnesota man who admitted to smothering his 3-month-old daughter in 2009 has formally pleaded guilty to murder charges.
38-year-old Benjamin Alexander Russell pled guilty to second-degree murder in court on May 18 in exchange for a 138-month prison sentence and the dismissal of a first-degree manslaughter charge.
Authorities say they were called to a home on Meadowood Curve NW in January of 2009 due to the report of an unresponsive infant.
Russell told authorities that he put the child down for a nap with a bottle around 12:30 p.m. but when he came back an hour later, he noticed the child had rolled over and was lying face first on the blanket he fashioned to hold her bottle.
Russell says he rolled the child onto her back and noticed that she was unresponsive. He then conducted CPR on the child until help arrived.
An autopsy found that the child died from positional asphyxia.
In 2022, however, Russell admitted to the child’s mother that he killed the child because she wouldn’t stop crying:
“The Defendant explained that Child A would not stop crying while he was trying to lay her down for a nap and he ‘couldn’t handle any of it,” the warrant said. “He took a pillow and placed it over Child A’s face to ‘muffle the sound,’” left the room to smoke a cigarette, and “returned twelve minutes later.”
Russell also reported that the mother gave him the idea on how he would get away with the murder because of her instructions the night before:
“The Defendant told NK that she had given him the perfect alibi at the time of Child A’s death because she had told him to remove the pillows and blankets from Child A’s crib the night before,” the documents said. “Since he knew the blankets shouldn’t have been there, he told the investigators he had used them to prop up a bottle and Child A rolled into the blanket.”
Family members described Russell as an overwhelmed parent who often said concerning things.
Russell is scheduled to appear in Judge Jenny Walker Jasper’s Anoka County courtroom for sentencing on July 31.