Albert Lea man charged in toddler’s death
(ABC 6 News) – A man was charged with second-degree murder and felony child endangerment Friday afternoon at the Freeborn County District Court.
Albert Lea police received a call from the mother of two-year-old Ahziyas Dampha late Thursday morning.
She rushed home from work after receiving text messages from her boyfriend, Austin Navarro, who was watching Ahziyas and their two-month-old infant, saying he had fallen down the stairs. When she arrived home, she found the apartment door wedged shut with a knife, and Navarro locked inside the bedroom with the infant while Ahziyas was unresponsive on the bed.
“The officers were presented with the two-year-old child. The child appeared to be breathing, and while trying to peel back the onion, trying to find out what was going on in this chaotic moment, everybody was pretty distraught,” said JD Carlson, Director of Public Safety for the Albert Lea Police Department.
Navarro was spotted by fire rescue leaving the scene with the two-month-old. Police followed him and made a traffic stop, where he was arrested for driving after revocation and child endangerment.
Ahziyas was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Albert Lea, where he soon died from his injuries.
Law enforcement then opened up a suspicious death investigation.
“Our investigators went up to Ramsey County and participated with an autopsy on the child, and it was determined that it was a homicide caused by substantial blunt force trauma,” said Carlson.
The autopsy also revealed multiple bruises, abrasions, broken ribs, and internal bleeding from a lacerated liver and pancreas.
“I was very shocked,” said neighbor Aruna Evenson when she learned what happened. “I had talked with Austin multiple times since they had moved in, and he always came across as a nice guy.”
Navarro was arraigned in Freeborn County District Court Friday afternoon and was charged with second-degree murder and felony child endangerment.
The judge set bail at $1,000,000 without conditions, and $500,000 with conditions. This included a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order, which prohibits Navarro from having any contact with the mother or infant.
Navarro has a violent criminal history, including multiple domestic assault convictions, third-degree assault and disorderly conduct. He has also violated at least two no-contact orders.
More charges may still be coming. Albert Lea Police has opened another investigation into possible abuse of the infant.
“There were injuries with the infant child that was announced in court. The infant was two months old, and it’s been determined the infant has broken ribs as well,” said Carlson.
The family has set up two fundraisers to help pay for the funeral costs and transportation for Ahziyas’ grandmother, who lives in Texas, to attend the service.