Home / News / Anoka man gets prison for smothering infant daughter with pillow

Anoka man gets prison for smothering infant daughter with pillow

Jul 29, 2023Jul 29, 2023

An Anoka man has been sentenced to 11½ years in prison after admitting to smothering his infant daughter with a pillow in 2009 because she wouldn’t stop crying.

Benjamin Alexander Russell, 38, pleaded guilty in May to second-degree murder in the death of 3-month-old Suvanna LeeAnn Kreye-Russell. Russell received his sentence in Anoka County District Court on Monday and was given credit for 389 days he’d already served in custody.

Prosecutors brought murder and manslaughter charges against Russell in July 2022 after the Anoka County sheriff’s office received reports that he admitted he was responsible for his daughter’s death 13 years earlier.

The girl was found not breathing in her crib in Coon Rapids on Jan. 19, 2009, and soon pronounced dead at a hospital. An autopsy showed she died of “positional asphyxia/suffocation,” the criminal complaint says.

According to the complaint, Coon Rapids Police Department and Allina Health paramedics responded to the infant’s home in the 13100 block of Meadowood Curve Northwest around 1:30 p.m. Russell had called 911 to report she was not breathing.

Russell told police he’d been caring for his daughter while her mother was at work. He said he discovered the child unresponsive after checking on her while she napped, and that it appeared she had rolled onto her stomach and was face down on a blanket he had used to prop up her bottle.

The child’s mother told detectives in July 2022 that Russell had contacted her and said they needed to talk. Once they met, she said, Russell told her “that he killed (the child) with a pillow” and “explained that (the child) would not stop crying” and he “couldn’t handle any of it,” the complaint states.

She said Russell admitted to putting a pillow over the child’s face to “muffle the sound” of her crying, the complaint states. He then went outside to have a cigarette, leaving the pillow over her face. He later found her blue and unresponsive.

Russell told the mother that she had given him “the perfect alibi at the time” because she told him the night before to take the pillows and blankets out of the crib, the complaint states.

“Since he knew the blankets shouldn’t have been there, he told the investigators he had used them to prop up a bottle and (the child) rolled into the blanket,” the complaint states.

Sign up for Newsletters and Alerts

Follow Us