A 34-year-old Haugen man is in the Barron County Jail awaiting sentencing after he was found guilty Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, on a charge of second-degree reckless homicide in connection with the July 2017 death of his 3-month-old infant daughter, according to Barron County Circuit Court documents.
After a trial that stretched over parts of five days and consumed nearly 39 hours of court activity (including meal breaks for jurors), a 12-member jury found Curtis A. Strand guilty of second-degree reckless homicide and misdemeanor obstruction in connection with an original charge of first-degree reckless homicide.
The jury took about four hours to reach its verdict, according to court records.
The maximum penalty for a conviction on a charge of second-degree reckless homicide is up to 25 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. The original charge carried a penalty of 60 years.
Court records said Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Bitney ordered the obstruction charge dismissed, but refused a request from defense attorney John A. Birdsall, Milwaukee, not to revoke Strand’s bail. He was ordered jailed pending sentencing.
A complaint filed in November 2017 alleged that Haeven Strand-Dostal, age 3 months, was reported “not breathing” shortly before 5:30 a.m. Sunday, July 9, at Haugen.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene along with Lakeview Medical Center Ambulance and Bear Lake-Haugen First Responders.
The girl was flown from Rice Lake to Marshfield Medical Center, and she died at Marshfield on July 11.
Strand was charged after a four-month investigation which included interviews and confirmation of autopsy results.
The complaint said the defendant had an informal custody arrangement with the child’s mother, and he was caring for the child on the night of July 9.
He called 911 after allegedly discovering that the child wasn’t breathing.
The complaint said the defendant “didn’t provide any information suggesting or indicating that his daughter suffered any injury” before he called for help.
He did indicate that the child fell off his knee, but that he caught her before she fell to the floor.
The death was caused by blunt force trauma, according to information shared with investigators on Nov. 21 by Dr. A. Quinn Strobel, of the Midwest medical examiner’s office in Ramsey, Minn.
According to the complaint, Dr. Strobel informed two sheriff’s detectives that the skull fracture suffered by the infant “could not have been caused by a fall from (the defendant’s) knee,” and was an injury that “required more velocity and acceleration.”
Police interviewed Strand again on Nov. 21, and he allegedly said the child fell off a counter in the kitchen as he warmed a bottle for her in his microwave oven.