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Associated Press

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A 30-year-old man has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend's 17-month-old son.

Steven Sanchez, of Evansville, is charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder.

Police accuse Sanchez of beating the child, Johnte Zaptin, on July 7. The boy died two days later at a Denver hospital. Authorities say the boy died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

Police say Sanchez told investigators the child was accidentally struck with an opening door.

Sanchez told investigators that "the door struck the child, who then fell over a toy and struck his head," court documents state, and Zaptin immediately began convulsing.

The first-degree felony murder charge alleges that Sanchez, during the commission of child abuse, killed Zaptin. First-degree felony murder is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

District Attorney Kevin Meenan said it is too early in the proceedings for him to announce whether he will seek the death penalty.

The other charge, second-degree murder, is punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Wyoming defines second-degree murder as killing someone purposely and maliciously but without premeditation.

A date for a preliminary hearing has not been set.

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