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Judge rules man didn't intentionally kill 14-month-old girl in bat attack

A man who killed a 14-month-old girl in a church with the errant swing of a baseball bat isn't guilty of intentional murder, a judge in Traverse County, Minn., ruled today.

David Eric Collins agreed to stipulate in a three-day trial last week in Wheaton, Minn,, that he was guilty of second-degree felony murder in the death of Aundrea Brownlow, the girl whose stepfather he was trying to hit with the bat.

But Judge Gerald Seibel, in a verdict released Wednesday, said Collins didn't mean to kill Brownlow. Collins had insisted in the trial he did not meant to kill Brownlow or her stepfather.

The two murder charges, while both second-degree, have widely varying prison terms under Minnesota's sentencing guidelines.

A guilty verdict would've meant that Collins would be facing a sentence up to 35½ years. Instead, he's looking at a 12½-year to 20-year sentence on the lesser murder charge, if Seibel follows the recommendations in a sentencing hearing on June 21.