A Minnesota man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to murdering a 16-month-old baby.
Jonathan David Wierstad, 29, of Willernie in the northeast Twin Cities metro area, was accused of inflicting fatal head trauma to his fiancee's son on May 11, 2017.
The criminal complaint against Wierstad says paramedics rushed the 16-month-old boy to Gillette Children's Hospital, where he had emergency brain surgery to relieve massive swelling and bleeding on his brain.
Wierstad told investigators was from the child falling down a flight of seven stairs, claiming he'd forgotten to set the baby gate in place at the top of the stairs.
The swelling in the boy's brain was so severe that surgeons were forced to remove part of his skull, and despite their best efforts to save him, the boy died on June 3, 2017.
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The surgeon told investigators that the child's injuries were not consistent with a fall down stairs but were similar to what would happen in a "high velocity car accident without restraints or severe shaking."
At the time of the incident, Wierstad had already been on 15 years probation in St. Croix County, Wisconsin for a 2014 substantial battery conviction when he pleaded no contest to causing permanent brain damage to his then-girlfriend's 3-year-old son.
“Taking one’s anger out on someone else is never okay. Taking it out on a totally defenseless baby offends the sensibilities of us all," said Washington County Attorney Peter J. Orput in a statement.
"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.”
Wierstad pleaded guilty to second degree murder without intent.