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"Crimes against children are attacks on the very fabric of our society," says Van Hollen. "I will bring the full power of my office to bear on those offenders."
MADISON - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen gave praise today to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for upholding Susan R. Wilk's first-degree reckless homicide conviction-a conviction obtained in Sauk County circuit court by special prosecutors from Van Hollen's office.
"Crimes against children are attacks on the very fabric of our society," said Van Hollen. "I will bring the full power of my office to bear on those offenders."
In November of 1999, three-year-old Mercedes Caflisch spent several days a week in child care at Wilk's house in rural Baraboo. Mercedes died from a serious abdominal injury she received while in Wilk's care. Wilk was eventually charged in 2006 with first-degree reckless homicide. At her 2007 trial, Wisconsin Department of Justice prosecutors presented evidence that Mercedes was not injured or sick when she arrived at Wilk's residence, and that she received multiple injuries while in Wilk's care. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence of earlier injuries was relevant to disprove Wilk's claim that Mercedes accidentally inflicted her own fatal injury. The court of appeals also concluded that the circuit court did not err in admitting statements made by Wilk to her former attorney regarding Mercedes's condition, did not err in limiting evidence of injuries sustained by Mercedes outside of Wilk's home, and did not err in admitting certain postmortem photographs to establish the cause of Mercedes's death.
Susan Wilk is currently incarcerated at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She becomes eligible for parole in May, 2017.
Today's decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals may be found on the court's website:
The Wisconsin Attorney General may serve as a special prosecutor when requested by county district attorneys. Wilk was prosecuted in Sauk County circuit court by Assistant Attorney General Barbara Oswald and former Assistant Attorney General Eric Wilson. The Wisconsin Attorney General also represents the State in all felony appeals in both the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In Wilk's case, Assistant Attorney General James M. Freimuth represented the State in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.