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Man charged with murder in death

VIRGINIA, Minn. — 26-year-old Hibbing man has been charged with second-degree murder in the 2012 death of his former girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter.

Law enforcement officials announced Friday that a break in the case over the summer led to the arrest of Russell Shannon Johnson, who is accused of causing the death of Caroline Shenze Marie Medicine-Chavez in March 2012.

According to the St. Louis County Attorney's Office, Virginia police officers were called to a residence on a report of an unresponsive 2-year-old girl. Officers found Caroline gasping for air; she was transported to a hospital in Virginia and then to a hospital in Duluth, where she died the next day. An autopsy found that she died from "closed head trauma."

Johnson was with the child at the time and initially claimed that she fell and hit her head.

The county attorney's office reported that this summer a woman told investigators of a conversation she said she had with Johnson. Johnson told the woman he had stayed up late the night before the girl's death and was “cranky,” and after the girl got into his face, he pushed her and she flew into a wall, the attorney's office said.

Police arrested Johnson near Hibbing on Thursday afternoon and transferred him to St. Louis County Jail, where he is being held until a Sept. 15 court appearance in Virginia. The charge carries a maximum 40-year sentence.

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