CHIPPEWA FALLS, WIS. – A 10-year-old Wisconsin girl was led into court in handcuffs Monday morning and charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of a 6-month-old boy.
Accompanied by her parents, the girl sobbed throughout a 10-minute bond hearing in Chippewa County Circuit Court, where Judge James Isaacson ordered her held on $50,000 cash bond.
The Star Tribune is not identifying the girl because her case likely will be referred to juvenile court. Under Wisconsin law, first-degree homicide charges must initially be brought in adult court if the accused is age 10 or older.
Wearing a colorful striped skirt, a black hoodie and pink sneakers, the girl buried her head in her mother's arms, moaning and crying as Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell described the charge against her.
According to Newell, police responded to an emergency call on the afternoon of Oct. 30. A 6-month-old boy at a licensed day care center in the rural town of Wheaton, just west of Chippewa Falls, was found unresponsive and bleeding from the head. The baby was taken to a local hospital and then flown to Gillette Children's Hospital in St. Paul, where he died Nov. 1.
Police questioned one adult and three children who were present at the day care center. They quickly settled on the girl as the prime suspect, said Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk.
According to Kowalczyk, the girl said she was holding the baby when she dropped the infant, who hit his head on a footstool. When the baby cried, she panicked and stomped on the child's head, the sheriff said. A local doctor who examined the baby determined that the injuries were not accidental, he added.
Although the girl's biological parents were with her in court, authorities said she had been removed from their home in September and placed in foster care with the same family that also runs the day care center where the infant's death occurred. The reason the girl was placed in the foster home was not disclosed.
"It's not been a good morning for Chippewa County," Kowalczyk said, referring to the infant's death as well as the continuing investigation into the deaths of three Girl Scouts and one of their mothers, who were hit and killed by a truck Saturday near Chippewa Falls in an incident that resulted in homicide charges against 21-year-old Colten Treu.