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FdL man headed to trial in child abuse case

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Injuries allegedly caused by a Fond du Lac man have “devastated” the life of a 2-year-old girl, a doctor testified Friday.

Dr. Barbara Knox, a child abuse physician for University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital in Madison, detailed the injuries of Mckena Nett as the alleged perpetrator, Thomas J. Abitz Jr., 20, of 782 Security Drive, Apt. C-102, listened in the courtroom.

Abitz told Knox that he was playing “airplane” with his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter on March 26 when the child’s head struck the wall, according to the criminal complaint.

The child’s mother, Kayla Schonscheck, was sleeping at the time of the incident. Schonscheck’s mother, Yvonne Schonscheck, told police that Mckena was acting normal the day before and did not have any visible bruises as she was giving her a bath, according to the complaint.

After the incident, Mckena was taken to the Fond du Lac County Airport where a Flight for Life helicopter transported her to Madison.

“She went straight to the operating room or she would have died,” Knox said.

A portion of the girl’s skull was removed to allow her brain to swell, she said.

Knox said Mckena’s injuries include blood on the surface of the brain, retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, head injuries, including a fractured skull, bruises on the hip area and a bruise on the back consistent with a slap from an adult hand.

More than a month after receiving the injuries, Mckena is still listed in critical condition.

Knox said the right side of the child’s brain is dead while the other side is mostly dead.

“She has just enough brain stem function at this point to survive. But she’ll be devastated by this type of injury,” Knox testified under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Charles Schneider.

Abitz allegedly told Knox that the hand mark on Mckena’s back was from him trying to help her while she was choking. The doctor said the mark was lower than where people normally would attempt to save the child.

“None of (Abitz’s) accounts were consistent with the injuries,” Knox said.

Only an intentional act could cause the injuries, and striking a child’s head once on a wall would cause all of the injuries, Knox said.

Under questioning by Abitz’s attorney, Jeffrey Haase, Knox said that running Mckena into a wall could explain the skull fracture but not the other head injuries.

The preliminary hearing ended with Abitz being bound over for trial. An arraignment date will be set.

Abitz is free after posting $1,000 bail.

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