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Former Janesville residents in court on charges of child abuse

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Ted Sullivan
March 7, 2009
— A former Janesville woman accused of participating in the beating of a 3-year-old girl stood mute in Rock County Court on Friday when asked to enter a plea to charges of child abuse.

Stephanie A. Witt, 21, of 865 Holiday Drive, Beloit, waived her right to a preliminary hearing on felony charges of reckless child abuse and intentional child abuse.


The court entered a not guilty plea for Witt when she was arraigned.


Co-defendant Norbert Cruz Cantu III, 28, of 1712 White Ave., Beloit, also appeared in Rock County Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing on a felony charge of intentional child abuse. The hearing was continued until March 24.


According to the criminal complaint:


Witt and Cantu had been living together at 922 Suffolk Drive, Apt. A, Janesville, when the abuse began.


Witt told investigators she was frustrated with her daughter on Saturday, Dec. 31, and pushed her in the back, causing her to fall.


The girl began to cry.


Witt, Cantu and the girl then drove to the Janesville Mall. The girl moaned and cried in the car.


The three then drove to Woodman's Food Market, and the girl continued to whine.


Witt told investigators she then hit the girl twice in the face while they were in the car. The girl continued crying.


Witt told investigators she warned the girl to stop or Cantu would hit her next. The girl did not stop, and Cantu admitted he struck her in the face.


At Woodman's, Cantu noticed the girl's eyes were “not right.”


Emergency responders arrived at Woodman's. The girl had bruises on her head and body. She was unconscious.


The girl was flown to UW Children's Hospital in Madison.


She had brain surgery to relieve bleeding in her head.


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.


They remain free on signature bonds.



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