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Stevens Point man convicted of homicide in infant’s death

By Shereen Siewert,

UW-Stevens Point urban forestry major Emily Cleaver’s virtual invertebrate museum was created using, a digital database of museum specimens, as part of Assistant Professor Sarah Orlofske’s “Introduction to Animal Biology” class this spring. (Courtesy UWSP)

A 36-year-old Stevens Point man will spend at least 15 years in prison for the shaking death of his former girlfriend’s infant son, who died in 2020.

Meyer P. Willkom was convicted by a jury in June of first-degree reckless homicide in connection with the 6-month-old boy’s death. The trial lasted eight days before jurors delivered a verdict, following four hours of deliberation.

On Friday, Portage County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Baker sentenced Willkom to 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of extended supervision. The sentence exceeded the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections’ recommendation of 13 years initial confinement, but less than Portage County District Attorney Cass Cousins’ 20-year request.

Referring to information in the criminal complaint, Point Plover Metro Wire reported the infant was “in good health and with no medical issues” when his mother left for work. The child was unresponsive when Willkom and the infant came to pick up the woman from work several hours later, and the baby was taken to Marshfield Clinic.

Willkom later told police he heard the infant choking after being given a bottle and that he slapped the boy on the back a couple of times to dislodge what he was choking on, according to the complaint. Willkom denied anything else significant happened while the child was in his care.

The child was treated at a trauma center for two days and was pronounced dead two days later. An autopsy found “severe bilateral subdural hemorrhage, retinal hemorrhaging, and severe brain swelling,” consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, the complaint said.

The doctor who examined the baby said the child had “several retinal hemorrhaging” and “severe brain swelling with no exterior sign of injury,” consistent with “abusive head trauma or a severe trauma incident,” Metro Wire reported.

Cousins argued that the gravity of the offense, the reckless killing of a helpless infant under the defendant’s care, demanded a lengthy prison sentence to reflect the gravity of the offense. Cousins also highlighted the defendant’s negative character attributes that contributed to the offense, describing him as “selfish, arrogant, and self-absorbed.”

Willkom, through his attorneys, maintained his innocence at the sentencing hearing. However, Judge Baker disagreed and stated that she found the evidence to be “overwhelming,” and that she believed the jury “got it right.”

Judge Baker also addressed the defendant’s character, lack of prior criminal record, and loving and supportive family, agreeing with the State’s assessment that the defendant was “self-absorbed” and admonishing Willkom that he did not realize how much he had been given through his life, particularly when compared to most criminal defendants.

Cousins called the conviction one of the “proudest moments” of his career, and gave a nod in a news release to co-counsel Robert Jambois and his office staff. He also thanked the doctors who tried to save the child and the investigators who he said went beyond the call of duty to investigate the boy’s death and uncover the truth.

Willkom received 121 days of credit for the time he’s already spent behind bars.

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