(Reuters) - A South Dakota jury on Tuesday found a Sioux Falls man guilty of killing the 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2013, prosecutors said.
Joseph Patterson, 29, faces a mandatory life sentence for the conviction on second-degree murder in the death of Tyrese Ruffin, who was the son of his then girlfriend and Peterson, prosecutors said.
The jury deliberated about six hours before returning the verdict. Patterson also was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and aggravated battery of an infant.
Prosecutors had said Ruffin suffered blows to the head while in Patterson’s care and died from hemorrhaging, while defense attorneys had argued that the child’s death was accidental and the result of choking on snacks.
“I just wanted it to be about Ty,” Assistant Attorney General Laura Shattuck told reporters afterward.
Deputy Attorney General Robert Mayer said jurors ultimately put their stock in the doctors who treated Ruffin over experts who testified for Patterson’s defense.
Patterson will be held in custody without bond until sentencing, he said. No sentencing date has been set.
Police had said they were called to a Sioux Falls apartment in October 2013 because Patterson reported that he found Ruffin slumped over and unresponsive. Doctors determined that Ruffin’s injuries were consistent with abuse, police said.
Ruffin died two days later, police said.
Peterson, the National Football League’s most valuable player in 2012, told reporters he had learned about Ruffin only two months before the incident and had been preparing to provide financial assistance to his son and the child’s mother.
The running back, who did not attend the trial, met Ruffin for the first time at a hospital shortly before his death.
Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by David Bailey, Peter Cooney and Michael Perry