Medical Examiner: Man beaten in 1996 dies from complications

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office says a man who was severely beaten in July 1996 has now died as a result of complications from those injuries.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office says the man was severely beaten in a parking lot at 500 E. Michigan St. during the run of Summerfest in 1996.  The parking lot is several blocks west of the festival grounds.

The medical examiner spoke with Todd Hetzel, the victim’s brother, who said Joseph was beaten by a gang of approximately five males. Todd Hetzel stated his brother was with a friend who witnessed the event, and was also beaten, but he was unable to remember his name. He stated that his brother was beaten and kicked in the head so severely that he was clinically dead and had blood coming from his eyes, in addition to having his head caved in.

Todd Hetzel stated there were no arrests made in this case.

As a result of the trauma, Joseph Hetzel had brain surgery and was comatose for some time. The injury left him paralyzed on one side, and with a severe brain injury, which left him unable to read or write.

Hetzel’s mobility was affected, and in 2009, he fell down a flight of stairs at another brother’s home in Hartford and sustained another head injury, requiring an additional brain surgery. Following that incident, Hetzel was no longer walking, and lived in a wheelchair.

Hetzel’s brother says Joseph was living at All About Life Rehabilitation in Fond du Lac. He was not eating, because he was no longer able to swallow. He died when his brain shut down.

Hetzel’s brother says he believes Joseph’s death is related to the beating in July 1996.

A nurse who was providing hospice care for Joseph told the Medical Examiner a state mandate had required patients to have their anti-psychotic medications lowered, and when Hetzel’s medications were decreased, this is what led Hetzel to “go off the deep end.” This is when he became agitated and would no longer eat or drink — according to the nurse.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.