ELKHORN — Two baths. That’s all it took for an East Troy man to cause injuries to the ribs and bleeding of the brain to his 3-week-old daughter, Walworth County District Attorney Philip Koss said Friday.
Jason H. Andritsch, 27, of 2178 Clark St., No. 7, is accused of first-degree reckless homicide and causing great bodily harm to a child in the 2007 death of his daughter, Naomi.
The baby’s mother, Tiffany Mielke, said the two baths were the only times Andritsch was left alone with the baby, Koss said. On Sept. 22, 2007, Mielke went to the grocery store that her parents owned in East Troy and left Naomi with Andritsch for about 30 to 35 minutes, Koss said.
“Tiffany had been kind of excited that day because they had to wait for the umbilical cord to fall before giving the baby a bath
,” Koss said during his opening statement Friday, the first day of Andritsch’s trial.
“Tiffany is at the store, calls home to make sure it’s OK. She hears Naomi crying loudly in the back.” Andritsch told her that he decided to give the baby a bath by himself. Mielke rushed back to the house, and everything seemed fine, Koss said.
But on Oct. 7, 2007, events took a tragic turn. Mielke and Andritsch decided to give Naomi a bath. “She did cry during the bath,” Koss said. “She is moving around. She is fine. She’s just not happy.”
When the bath was done, Mielke went outside to dump the bathwater while Andritsch took Naomi to their bedroom. As she came back, Mielke heard Andritsch say “she’s pooping” on his way from the bedroom to the bathroom.
“Tiffany can’t really see Naomi,” Koss said. “She cannot tell you if her eyes are open, what she was doing.” Mielke then rushed to find cleaning supplies, Koss said, and heard Andritsch say, “Wake up, wake up, what’s wrong?” Mielke rushed to the bathroom to find Naomi lifeless, Koss said.
“Tiffany never touched Naomi after the bath, according to both her and defendant,” he added. “The defendant took Naomi into the bedroom and then the bathroom while Tiffany was busy (dumping the bathwater).”
Andritsch and Mielke rushed the baby to Waukesha Memorial Hospital. She was then flown to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she died Oct 13, 2007, one month after she was born.
An autopsy revealed new and week-old healing injuries to several of her back ribs, where someone would normally hold a newborn and could injure ribs by squeezing the child
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.
According to experts in child abuse who examined Naomi, the injuries are consistent with shaking a newborn
whose muscles are not strong enough to fully control head movement.
While experts cannot pinpoint the exact date of the injuries, Koss said, the exams are consistent with the dates when Andritsch was left alone with Naomi. Koss said the parents were warned twice by nurses to be careful and not shake the baby.
“Tiffany says, ‘She was fine. I’ve never hurt her. I’ve never accidentally hurt her. I’ve never seen anybody hurt her,’” Koss added. “And (Mielke) frankly told the doctors, ‘I don’t know what happened.’ ”
Andritsch told East Troy police officers: “I could have been the one” and “I might have been too rough.” He has also admitted that he “could have knocked her head into the door or door frame” while taking her from the bedroom to the bathroom. “He said he was sorry he shook the baby and only shook her to get a response from her when she went limp
,” Koss said.
Defense attorney Melissa Frost did not make an opening statement Friday.
Andritsch is due in court again Tuesday when the prosecution is expected to present its evidence.