Charges: Albert Lea man killed girlfriend’s 2-year-old son while she was at work

Authorities say a 2-year-old boy who died last week in Albert Lea is believed to have been killed by his mother’s boyfriend.

Prosecutors have charged 24-year-old Austin Michael Navarro with second-degree murder and child endangerment for allegedly killing the child while he was supposed to be watching him and a 12-week-old when the kids’ mother was at work.

Court documents state that 911 dispatchers received two calls at around 11:45 a.m. on July 6, one reporting yelling at a next-door apartment unit in Albert Lea and another from a woman saying her child was unresponsive in that apartment.

Officers responded and learned Navarro had left the scene, but an officer was able to track him down and stop him around nine blocks away from the apartment. There, Navarro said he’d left because he was scared, the documents state.

The 2-year-old was taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead around an hour after the 911 calls were made.

According to a criminal complaint, the child’s mother said she and Navarro were in a relationship and she’d left her 2-year-old child and their 12-week-old in his care while she went to work. She added that he was the only one caring for the kids while she was gone.

The mother said she got a text message just after 10 a.m. from Navarro saying the 2-year-old fell down the stairs. When she asked for pictures to evaluate the child’s condition, the complaint states that Navarro replied, “Ong baby it’s bad asf like I don’t even wanna show u.” They texted a few other times, with the mother demanding a picture, saying, “I’m freaking out.” Over an hour later, Navarro sent a picture that showed the child apparently unresponsive with severe bruising.

After getting the picture, the mother left work early and had to force the door to the apartment open because a knife had been jammed in it to apparently prevent it from being opened, the complaint states. She then found Navarro locked in a bedroom upstairs with the 12-week-old and the 2-year-old was unresponsive on a bed and called 911.

An autopsy showed the child had “an abnormal amount of blood in the lower torso,” lacerations to his liver and pancreas, and subdural hemorrhaging on the side of his head. His death was determined to have been caused by multiple blunt force injuries and his death was ruled a homicide.

Navarro made his first court appearance Friday afternoon and had his bail set at $1 million without conditions or $500,000 with conditions. His next appearance is set for July 20.