Feran-Baum pleads guilty in beating death of two-year-old

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cody Feran-Baum pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in the beating death of two-year-old Sophia O’Neill, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

As part of the agreement, Feran-Baum is expected to receive 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 22. That is a significantly longer prison term than a person with no criminal history would normally receive.

“The torture this little girl had to endure is sickening,” Freeman said. “It is good that Mr. Feran-Baum took responsibility for his vicious act and pleaded guilty. We promised when he was charged that we would seek a higher sentence and we have kept that promise.”

Feran-Baum, 18, of Minneapolis, answered the questions from his attorney and Hennepin County District court Judge William Koch Wednesday morning with a firm “yes sir” or “no sir” as he gave up his right to a trial both on the murder charge and on the aggravating circumstances.

Feran-Baum, who was 17 at the time of the June 10 murder, admitted in court that he was alone in his grandmother’s house at 3857 30th Ave. S that morning and was taking care of his girlfriend’s daughter. His girlfriend was at an appointment, but Sophia kept crying.

He admitted that he became frustrated with her crying, which did not stop when he gave her food and when he put her in a timeout.

Feran-Baum agreed with his attorney that “he lost it” and kicked her in the back more than once and then stepped on her back. Later he learned that those blows caused organ failure in the child as well as broken bones and bruising.

At the time, however, he could see that Sophia’s health was slipping. So he gave her a bath. When that didn’t seem to help, he ran next door and told a neighbor to call 911. When paramedics arrived, Feran-Baum admitted that he lied to them and said she had drowned in the bathtub. That lie interfered with the treatment she received by the paramedics and later the doctors, Feran-Baum admitted.

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines would have called for a prison sentence of 128 to 180 months in prison. But because he admitted that he was in a position of trust over the child, that his treatment of her was particularly cruel and that his lies interfered with her medical treatment, prosecutors were able to ask for the sentence of 300 months in prison.