Mother charged in death of Beloit baby

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, April 20, 2017

BELOIT—A Beloit mother should not have left her baby in the care of the baby's father, a decision that resulted in the child's death, according to a criminal complaint filed in Rock County Court on Thursday.

The 7-week-old boy, identified in court documents as A.C.H., was pronounced dead six days after a March 20 incident at the home where he lived with his mother, father and other children.

Doctors told investigators the boy suffered a fractured skull and died of a brain bleed caused by “significant head trauma,” according to the criminal complaint.

A doctor at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee said the injuries were consistent with shaking or slamming the child, the complaint states

Jessica A. Nelson, 29, of 705 Euclid Ave. upper, was charged Thursday with child neglect resulting in death.

The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

Doctors said if the boy had lived, he would have been in a vegetative state. They disconnected his life support March 26, and he died, according to the complaint.

The father, Deanthony C. Hodges, 31, of the same address, was charged March 22, before the boy was declared dead. Hodges faces charges of child abuse causing great bodily harm and child neglect resulting in great bodily harm.

Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan has said Hodges' charges will be changed, possibly to reckless homicide, once the proper report is received from the county medical examiner's department.

In an earlier case, Hodges is facing charges of domestic abuse battery and disorderly conduct.

Nelson was the victim in that case. She was pregnant Sept. 3, 2016, when Hodges grabbed her by the neck and tried to strangle her, the complaint states.

Nelson told police at the time that Hodges had abused her in the past, but she had not reported it, according to the complaint.

Rock County Child Protective Services was involved with Nelson and her children earlier in 2016.

Nelson told officials in July that her contact with Hodges would end and that he did not live with her, Sullivan said in court Thursday.

She said this so she could reunite with her children, Sullivan said.

Nelson later became pregnant by Hodges, Sullivan said in court Thursday.

Nelson had told her grandmother that Hodges would not be watching her youngest child because she did not trust him, according to the complaint.

But Nelson told a Beloit police detective that she had said she wouldn't let Hodges watch the boy because that's what people wanted to hear, according to the complaint.

She also said she said those things because she wanted to look good in the eyes of county workers, the complaint states.

But Hodges watched the child six of the seven days she worked after returning from maternity leave, she told investigators March 22, according to the complaint.

Child Protective Services has assigned Nelson's two other children to the care of Nelson's grandparents, according to the complaint.

One of the children told Child Protective Services that Hodges had hurt her brother, according to the complaint.

The brother suffered a lacerated kidney, but no one could determine how that injury occurred, according to the complaint.

Nelson was released Thursday on a signature bond, as Sullivan recommended, on condition that she make no contact with any child under 18 or with Hodges.

Sullivan said he wanted all children included in the restrictions because Nelson baby-sat children.

Nelson is scheduled for an adjourned initial appearance May 2 so she can have time to hire a lawyer.

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