MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 29-year-old Willernie man pleaded guilty to the murder of a 16-month-old child and was immediately sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
Jonathon David Wierstad specifically pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the May 11, 2017 death.
According to the criminal complaint, emergency responders were dispatched to a home in Willernie on an unresponsive 16-month-old, who was in the care of Wierstad. The child was taken to Gillette’s Children’s Hospital with massive swelling and bleeding in the brain. Emergency brain surgery was performed, but the child died on June 3, 2017.
The attending surgeon told authorities that the child’s injuries were inconsistent with Wierstad’s story that the child fell down the stairs.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner later determined the child’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma.
Authorities say Wierstad was on probation at the time for a substantial battery conviction from St. Croix County in Wisconsin. He caused permanent brain damage to his then girlfriend’s 3-year-old child, who had a closed head injury with brain bleeding and swelling.
“Taking one’s anger out on someone else is never OK,” County Attorney Pete Orput said. “Taking it out on a totally defenseless baby offends the sensibilities of us all. No amount of prison time can adequately offset this defendant’s actions. However, this office continues to make every attempt to bring justice to the family.”
Wienstad is not the biological father of the victim.