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SENTENCED: Nora Zylstra gets 25 years in prison for killing son

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The ultimate act of evil. That's what a judge had to say about the actions of 37-year-old Nora Zylstra. Zylstra on Monday, June 2nd pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first degree reckless homicide for killing her 14-month-old son. The prosecution recommended 25 years in prison -- and a judge agreed.

On Tuesday, June 3rd, Zylstra was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.

14-month-old Leonidas Fisher was found dead inside a home near 76th and Morgan Ave. on March 9th.

In court, the baby's father made an emotional plea for a maximum sentence.

"He struggled and fought for his last breath. I would give my life just to see and feel Leo one more time. If I could have ten minutes -- that would be enough and it would be finally that I have truly felt peace," Lucas Fisher said.

"You have a woman who clearly has mental health problems, but in my opinion -- knew right from wrong. She knew what she was doing," the prosecution said.

"Nora Zylstra is mentally ill, and she killed her son because...due to her severe depression, her paranoia," the defense said.

Also speaking in court during her sentencing hearing -- Zylstra herself. She apologized to the baby's father.

"I'm so sorry Luke. I'm so sorry. I miss hum so. I cry for him. I love him more than anything and I'm so sorry," Zylstra said.

The baby's father says the punishment won't change what happened to his baby boy.

"Nothing will ever bring back my little boy. I love him so much. Maybe I can have a little healing knowing she won't hurt anybody again," Lucas Fisher said.

According to the criminal complaint, Zylstra suffocated the baby with a pillow before she attempted to take her own life by ingesting pills and then getting into the bathtub with a toaster.

The complaint indicates that Zylstra began to contemplate killing her son and herself on March 9th after the baby’s father refused to get back together.

The baby’s father reportedly broke off his relationship with Zylstra in February.

The complaint indicates that the baby’s father received a text message from Zylstra around 5:30 a.m. on March 9th that stated the house key was under the back mat, and for him to come over. At that time, he told police he became suspicious and began texting Zylstra — but she never responded.

The baby’s father then called police — which led them to perform a welfare check.

When police arrived on scene, they found four envelopes addressed to family members of Zylstra. Officers then heard moaning, and found Zylstra lying on a bed in her bedroom. Pills were located in her vicinity.

Police then went to the second bedroom in the home and observed 14-month-old Leonidas Fisher unconscious and not breathing in a crib, according to the complaint.

The complaint indicates that Zylstra told police she wanted to reconcile with the baby’s father because she did not want their son to deal with the pain and suffering of growing up in a broken home. However, when the father refused to reconcile, she began to think about her responsibilities and bills.

Zylstra told police that she then began Googling ways to die — claiming that she thought it was the best solution. Shortly after, she began to write goodbye letters to her mom, brother and the baby’s father.

According to the criminal complaint, Zylstra took several Percocet, Atenolol and Xanax before placing a blanket and pillow over Fisher’s face. After Fisher stopped moving, Zylstra then got into a bathtub with a toaster in an effort to kill herself, but it didn’t work.

The judge came to his sentencing decision after reviewing more than 100 letters written by family members, friends and patients of Nora Zylstra -- who had worked as an obstetrics nurse.

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9 comments

    • Nicole

      what we were trying to clarify is all 35 in prison? and then 10 supervised? I guess we didn’t hear him after he said a few things since we were relieved. Thanks I know to add.

  • perhaps

    It’s sad that if she was a hardcore thug who shot a child while having a gangland style shootout, she’d only get 10 years in prison.

    This woman was suicidal and has mental stability issues. They are not going to help the real problem, they’re just going to lock her up until she’s elderly.

    I’m assuming these were state charges and not federal, so 1/4 of that time will be taken away a.k.a. good time. We really need to take a look at sentencing and take some power away from our judges…who can sometimes sentence people harsher or lighter depending on their mood that particular day.

    She’ll get out in her mid to late 50’s, and she will still be unstable and also depressed. But we’re talking about a former nurse…in other words: not very scary. If this were a 20 year old gangsta who got 15 years for 1rst degree reckless homicide, that person gets out at 35 years old, knows nothing but gangs, drugs, and prison, and most likely kills again.

    This is backwards. 35 year sentences should be for the felons who continue to shoot firearms. For the ones who get out of jail and rob someone immediately. I’m not defending her actions in any way, but in my opinion, this woman doesn’t seem like a threat to the general public, she’s more of a threat to herself and her own family. This woman should have gotten less years (maybe 10-15, which is still a very long time to be incarcerated) and more in the way of mental health treatment.

    • A. Cortez Perez

      What? SHE KILLED HER CHILD. KILLED because a boyfriend didn’t want to be with her. Took a child’s life over a breakup with a boyfriend. That’s pure evil. Her life deserves to end for her ending an innocent child’s life in an act of vengence, not depression. And to call her suicidal is laughable. She succeeded in killing her child, yet failed in her own attempt, how convenient for her.

      • Z

        AMEN Cortez,I agree with you 100%!!! This Godless hag is NOT mentally ill like her attorney said,she killed that poor innocent adorable baby out of SPITE!! She deserves to be executed.

    • Bob

      Perhaps: This sentence is for 35 years. She must serve 25 (every day) u ntill she is eligible for parole (extended supervision). She will never receive good behavior time. This woman is a very dangerous. I know her and believe me any mother who could soffocate her own child is capable of doing much more harm to others. Its a shameful thing that she uses depression to hide her vengeful personality. I feel for those who suffer real depression and find strength in their children. Selfish and entitled describes her perfectly. So sad for that little boy.

  • Amy

    She actually will serve every day of the 35 years. No time off for good behaviour, no parole and then have 10 years of supervision as she is dangerous.

  • Patty

    So, we give her some crazy pills to help her get better and throw her in storage, when we should be giving her a bathtub full of water and two 220v wires to hold.
    What Walker NEEDS to do, is start making sentences that actually MEAN SOMETHING. Let’s start with the limp noodle $30 fines for texting while driving, that should be $3000!

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