Remembering Dakota a beautiful little boy who was abused and mistreated on his Angel Day (April 12, 2005)
A St. Paul man who tortured his girlfriend's 17-month-old son to death pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder.
Joseph Rex Bell, in a plea deal Thursday, agreed to a 38-year sentence.
He must serve 25 1/2 years in prison and the remainder of the term on probation.
Bell, 34, called 911 on April 12 and reported that baby Dakota Ryan Forss had stopped breathing.
The child was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy later revealed that the boy had suffered more than 50 injuries in his lifetime, including skull fractures, bruises, cigarette burns and groin injuries.
The boy died of a blow to the torso, which caused internal bleeding and tearing, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner determined.
Bell told police he was "roughhousing" with Dakota the day he died. Bell is not related to the child. Bell later admitted that he knew that he would eventually kill the boy if he kept abusing him but said he "just couldn't stop," according to a criminal complaint.
Dakota's mother, Kalani Jean Forss, told police Bell had been her son's primary caregiver even though she had seen Bell punch the boy in the head. Kalani Forss said she had not fed or changed the boy's diaper in the week before his death.