Janesville58°

Couple charged in child abuse case

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Ted Sullivan
February 3, 2009
— When the girl wouldn't stop crying, Stephanie A. Witt hit her twice in the face, according to court records.

But the girl, 3, continued to whine, and Witt's live-in boyfriend, Norbert Cruz Cantu III, struck her a third time, according to the criminal complaint.


The beating was part of an afternoon of life-threatening abuse that ended with the child undergoing emergency brain surgery.


Witt, 21, and Cantu, 28, both of 922 Suffolk Drive, Apt. A, Janesville, appeared in Rock County Court Monday on felony charges.


Witt is charged with reckless child abuse and intentional child abuse. Cantu is charged with intentional child abuse.


According to the criminal complaint:


Witt told investigators she was frustrated with the girl on Saturday, Dec. 31, and pushed her in the back, causing her to fall and strike her head against the bedpost. The girl then fell to the ground and began to cry.


Witt, Cantu and the girl then went to the Janesville Mall for lunch. On the way, the girl continued to moan and cry. They decided not to go into the mall because of the girl's behavior.


The three then drove to Woodman's Food Market, and the girl continued to whine and moan on the way. Witt told investigators she then hit the girl twice in the face while they were in the car. The girl kept crying.


Witt told investigators she warned the girl, saying if she didn't stop crying, Cantu would hit her next. The girl did not stop, so Cantu admitted he struck her across the face.


When they arrived at Woodman's, Cantu noticed the girl's eyes were "not right." He told investigators he got the girl out of the car, but she couldn't stand.


Emergency responders arrived at Woodman's and found the girl with bruises near her right ear and above her right temple. The girl also had bruises on her neck and torso. She was unconscious.


The girl was taken to Mercy Hospital in Janesville and flown to UW Children's Hospital in Madison.


She was bleeding in her brain. She had surgery to relieve pressure from the bleeding. A portion of her skull had to be removed.


The surgeon told investigators the girl might not regain her full brain function.


Witt and Cantu were arrested Friday, Jan. 2, at the Janesville Police Department.


Witt remains free on $4,000 signature bond, and Cantu remains free on $2,000 signature bond.


They are scheduled to appear in court March 6 for a preliminary hearing.



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