Juror says unanswered questions led to acquital

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
— Unanswered questions and lack of proof led a Walworth County jury to find an East Troy man not guilty Monday in the 2007 death of his infant daughter, a juror said.

Jason H. Andritsch, 27, of 2178 Clark St., No. 7, East Troy, was accused of first-degree reckless homicide and causing great bodily harm to a child in the 2007 death of his 3-week-old daughter, Naomi.

On Monday, a 12-person jury found Andritsch not guilty of both counts.

Defense attorney Melissa Frost declined to comment after the verdict.

Andritsch's family cried and hugged. The defendant's father, Daniel Andritsch, said only, "Praise the Lord," and declined to comment further.

Juror Kevin Dick, 53, Genoa City, said the prosecution didn't present enough evidence that Andritsch was the one who caused Naomi's death.

On the evening of Oct. 7, 2007, Andritsch and Naomi's mother, Tiffany Mielke, had decided to give the child a bath.

When the bath was done, Mielke went outside to dump the bathwater while Andritsch took Naomi to their bedroom. On her way back into the house, Mielke said she heard Andritsch say, "She's pooping," on his way from the bedroom to the bathroom with the baby.

After finding cleaning supplies, Mielke rushed to the bathroom and found a lifeless Naomi in Andritsch's arms.

Naomi was taken to Waukesha Memorial Hospital and later flown to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where she died Oct. 13, 2007, one month after she was born.

During the trial, District Attorney Philip Koss brought in medical experts, records and witnesses who pointed to Andritsch.

One of the doctors who examined Naomi said babies don't "just go limp" and that she must have lost consciousness because she was shaken or hit.

One of Koss' arguments was that nobody else had touched Naomi after the bath and both parents said she was fine up until that point.

But Dick said the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Andritsch was guilty.

"There was no evidence whatsoever that it happened at that time," Dick said of the bathroom incident when Naomi went limp. "We were talking amongst ourselves: 'Could this have happened earlier that day, for example, in the restaurant?'"

Andritsch and Mielke had taken the child to church, a restaurant in Mukwonago and to visit friends in Burlington that Sunday.

She threw up in two different occasions, and both parents said they were concerned because she hadn't eaten for a while.

After the first incident at a Mukwonago restaurant, Mielke took Naomi to the ladies' bathroom to change her, according to witnesses.

"Could something have happened when they took her to the ladies' room?" Dick said.

But Koss and medical experts said during the trial that the injuries must have happened after the bath because Naomi would have been unable to act normally throughout the day as several witnesses said she did.

An autopsy revealed several new and older healing injuries to several of Naomi's ribs. She also had recent injuries, including impact bruises on her jaw and forehead, bruises on her eyelids and hand, and bleeding and swelling of the brain.

Dick said the jury questioned the lack of evidence behind some of the injuries the baby sustained, including the five recently broken ribs the autopsy revealed.

"Could they have bumped her by accident putting her in the car?" he asked.

Koss said the older injuries likely happened Sept. 22, the first time Andritsch was left alone with the child.

Andritsch said he decided to give Naomi her first bath because she had defecated.

Prosecution questioned his ability to handle the baby by himself and said that likely was the day when Naomi had 11 of her ribs injured.

Experts said the broken ribs were caused by child abuse, likely by squeezing or shaking the child. But they could not pinpoint to a specific date when the injuries were caused.

"There was very little evidence to prove to us that something happened to Naomi (on Sept. 22)," Dick said.

Dick, along with other jurors who declined to comment on the case, said the decision was exceptionally difficult for the group.

Being a grandparent of a week-old baby, Dick said, it was difficult to sit through evidence presentations and to eventually decide on the verdict.

"We shed many tears in that room," he said of the deliberations the jury went through.

"It was tough."

Last updated: 10:48 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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