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Wierstad will stand trial for child abuse

At the preliminary hearing before Judge Eric Lundell, Jonathan Wierstad, left, was bound over for trial on a charge of felony child abuse of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son. He is pictured with his attorney John Kucinski. (Hudson Star-Observer photos by Meg Heaton)1 / 2
Hudson Police Det. Sgt. Geoff Willems testified about police interviews with Wierstad about how the 3-year-old in his care ended up with a life-threatening head injury2 / 2

St. Croix County Judge Eric Lundell ruled that Jonathon D. Wierstad will stand trial for inflicting life-threatening injuries his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son. The boy has been in a coma since the incident on April 8.

The judge made the decision after hearing testimony from Hudson Police Det. Sgt. Geoff Willems, the only witness called at the preliminary hearing on Monday.

Wierstad, 24, of St. Paul, is charged with felony physical child abuse –- recklessly causing great bodily harm.

Willems testified that Wierstad has changed his story three times about what happened on the morning of April 8 in the St. Croix Street residence he shared with his girlfriend and her son.

He first told police that the child tripped over a pile of clothes in the bathroom. Willems said Wierstad was questioned again after doctors who were treating the boy said the severity of his injuries could not have come from the fall Wierstad described. Willems said the doctor told him that the head injury to the boy was among the worst he had ever seen and was more like something that would result from a high-impact vehicle crash.

According to Willems, Wierstad admitted his initial story wasn’t true. He then told police that he had been holding the boy upright under the arms and tossing him into the air several times and catching him when he missed him and the child dropped onto the floor landing on his head. He told police he was afraid he would get into trouble if he told them the truth when he was first questioned.

Willems said Wierstad changed his story a third time when he was interviewed by St. Croix County Social Services about what happened. At that time Wierstad allegedly said he was holding the boy “Superman style,” holding the boy parallel to the floor and tossing him in the air when he dropped him and the boy fell on his head.

Wierstad’s attorney John Kucinski asked Willems if he saw any bruising or signs of other injuries on the boy’s body and he said he had not. He questioned Willems about what he called the accident and asked why police had not asked doctors if the child’s injuries could have happened from being tossed into the air and dropped as his client described. Willems said he had not asked the boy’s doctors that question.

Wierstad remains free on $25,000 bail. He is scheduled to be in court for his arraignment on May 19. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The boy remains unconscious and on a ventilator at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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