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Murder charges filed against Brainerd, Minn., man claiming to be boxer after victim dies

A Brainerd man who had been charged with assault in Pine County now faces murder and manslaughter charges after the victim died. Keith Leon Defoe, 42, of Brainerd was charged Tuesday with one count of first-degree assault with intent to cause gre...

Keith Leon Defoe

A Brainerd man who had been charged with assault in Pine County now faces murder and manslaughter charges after the victim died.

Keith Leon Defoe, 42, of Brainerd was charged Tuesday with one count of first-degree assault with intent to cause great bodily harm and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon after allegedly punching his cousin once in the face, causing him to fall backward and suffer a severe head injury.

The victim, John Pike, 49, died at Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center late Tuesday afternoon, according to the Pine County Sheriff's Office.

On Wednesday, the criminal complaint against Defoe was amended to charge him with one count each of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter.

According to court documents, Defoe and Pike were drinking together at a Hinckley address Saturday evening when they began arguing. One witness "stated that he observed the defendant punch Mr. Pike, heard a 'loud pop' and then Mr. Pike fell to the ground."

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Pike suffered facial fractures, a fractured nose and bleeding on the brain. He required surgery to relieve pressure on his brain and was on a ventilator before dying.

Defoe claimed to be a professional boxer, but investigators haven't found any evidence that he has boxed or competed in other combative sports, according to the amended complaint.

Related Topics: CRIMEESSENTIA HEALTHPOLICE
Steve Kuchera is a retired Duluth News Tribune photographer.
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