Caledonia man charged in connection with abuse, neglect of month-old boy reaches plea deal

RACINE COUNTY — One of two people charged in connection with the abuse and neglect of a month-old boy in Racine County has reached a plea deal in the case against him.

Gest Wangsness

Gest Wangsness, 32, of Caledonia, on Monday, April 9 pleaded no contest to one count of neglecting a child, consequence is great bodily harm, as party to a crime. A second charge, child abuse, intentionally causing great bodily harm, as party to a crime, was dismissed as a result of the plea deal. Wangsness will be sentenced on June 11.

Krystal Hall, 26, of Caledonia faces one count of child abuse, intentionally causing great bodily harm, as party to a crime, repeater and one count of neglecting a child, consequence is great bodily harm, as party to a crime, repeater.

She has a jury trial set to begin in June.

Hall is the mother of the baby boy — and Wangsness is the father, the complaint says.

Krystal Hall

According to the criminal complaint, investigators were dispatched to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on Oct. 31, 2016 to investigate a report of possible child abuse. The child apparently had “fractures to the skull and bleeding on the brain.” He had originally been brought to Wheaton Franciscan Hospital in Racine — before medical staff there advised Hall and Wangsness take him to Children’s Hospital.

The complaint indicates Hall had taken the child “to Wheaton Franciscan ER two weeks prior for damage to the frenulum. The incident was never reported to police.” A doctor indicated “the incident should have been called into police because that was a form of child abuse.”

“I’m really shocked and I’m really sad,” said David Standiford, neighbor.

Neighbors said they don’t know the couple well, but knew they had recently had a child.

“I saw the balloons and I knew a baby was born,” said Standiford.

Investigators spoke separately with Hall and Wangsness. Hall said she “had been a stay-at-home parent with (the child) since he was born.” She “advised that she is a recovered addict of heroin.” She said she has been clean since October 2013 — and “was on parole for OWI.”

Hall was advised, the complaint says, that the baby boy “had four fractures to his skull, a broken sixth rib, two broken bones on his right leg and a broken bone on his left leg.” Investigators told her the injuries came from abuse, according to medical staff. Hall told investigators that “she did not do it.”

When investigators spoke with Wangsness, he indicated “he plays with (the child) kind of rough sometimes.” Wangsness said “he saw other male figures playing with their children by swinging them in the air and throwing them up in the air and catching them.” He told investigators he was doing those actions “because he thought that was an appropriate behavior for father and son.” During these times, the child apparently had fallen to the carpeted floor.  Wangsness said the child “fell on his butt and then landed on his back” but that he was “not crying or anything from the fall.” Wangsness also told police he learned parenting skills from YouTube videos.

Both Hall and Wangsness denied injuring the child.