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Man convicted of second-degree murder in death of Adrian Peterson’s son

Adrian Peterson is shown in 2014. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

A South Dakota man was convicted Tuesday in the death of Adrian Peterson’s son. Joseph Patterson, 29, was found guilty of second-degree murder following the 2013 death of two-year-old Tyrese Robert Ruffin.

Patterson was the boyfriend of Ruffin’s mother at the time. Peterson only found out that he was the father of the child shortly before the boy’s death, and he was arranging to meet his young son for the first time when the incident that ultimately proved fatal occurred.

The Vikings running back rushed to South Dakota and saw Ruffin for the first time a day before he died. The boy was found to have suffered blunt force trauma to his head, consistent with four blows that Patterson allegedly inflicted.

Patterson’s defense lawyer attempted to convince the jury that a possibility existed that the boy died from choking on a fruit snack, and thus there was enough reasonable doubt to exonerate his client. But following two weeks of testimony, and after a deliberation of over five hours, the jurors returned a verdict of 2nd-degree murder, manslaughter and aggravated battery.

According to, prosecuting attorney Laura Shattuck said, “Really, what I wanted the jury to think about was the defendant, his actions, his thoughts and why he did this.” She added, “It takes a certain kind of person to abuse a child, a defenseless child, and I just really wanted the jury to focus on that.”

Peterson missed most of the 2014 season after being placed on indefinite suspension by the NFL, following a grand jury indictment that he whipped a four-year-old son of his with a switch. The running back wound up making a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault, and his suspension was eventually overturned in a federal court, albeit after the season ended.

On Sunday, Peterson became the father to another baby boy, after his wife gave birth to Axyl Eugene Peterson. The child is Peterson’s sixth and his second with the mother, Ashley Peterson.