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Monday, April 28, 2008

Attorney seeks mom's mental health records

--- Father accused in infant's death

By Jean Matheson/Contributor

An East Troy man accused of fatally shaking or squeezing his 1-month-old daughter is now raising questions about the mental health of the baby's mother.

Jason H. Andritsch, 26, has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Naomi Mielke, who medical authorities said died of "abusive head trauma" in the apartment at 2178 Clark St. that he shared with the baby's mother, Tiffany Mielke.

Now, Andritsch's attorney, public defender Melissa Frost, is seeking medical records of Tiffany Mielke in preparing to defend Andritsch when the case goes to trial. Frost maintains Mielke has been treated for mental illness and has been prescribed psychiatric medications.

At a hearing Wednesday before Walworth County Circuit Judge James Carlson, attorneys said they were hoping they could reach agreement on what medical records might be released.

District Attorney Phil Koss told Carlson that he and an attorney hired by Mielke's family were making an effort to obtain all of the records sought. Some of those records are stored out of state and the issue of whether the confidentiality of records could be waived needs to be resolved, he said.

The attorney hired to represent Tiffany Mielke, Peter Plaushines, said after the hearing that his client would not waive the patient-physician privilege that protects the confidentiality of medical records. But he said he needed more time to review the records once he has gathered them.

Carlson set another hearing for May 29 in an effort to resolve any dispute on the release of records.

Frost argues in her motion asking the judge to order the release of medical records that they will show Tiffany Mielke was "treated for mental health issues in the past, including the time surrounding the conception, birth and life" of the baby and during the same time was prescribed medications for "psychiatric issues" and "health issues."

Mielke received no prenatal care during her pregnancy, Frost says. In addition, Frost is seeking a 2005 autopsy report on a stillborn male infant conceived by Andritsch and Mielke.

Naomi Mielke, who was born Sept. 13, died Oct. 13 at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa where she had been unconscious since taken there on Oct. 7.

At a preliminary hearing on Dec. 4, the hospital's medical director, Dr. Lynn K. Sheets, testified that Naomi died from "abusive head trauma" caused by shaking, squeezing or an impact. She said it would have taken only "moments, minutes" to inflict the fatal injuries.

Tiffany Mielke also testified, saying the baby appeared to be in good health but was crying while she and Andritsch gave her a bath. Mielke said she went outdoors to empty the plastic bathtub and was gone "for about two minutes." When she returned, she said, she heard Andritsch say, "Naomi, wake up" and then say, "Tiff, something's wrong."

The couple took the infant to Waukesha Memorial Hospital, from which she was flown to Children's Hospital.

Questioned by East Troy police after the baby's death, Tiffany Mielke said that since the baby's birth Naomi had never been out of her sight other than when she was showering or one occasion, on Sept. 22, when she was away for 45 minutes, leaving the infant at their apartment with Andritsch, according to the criminal complaint.

Andritsch denied to officers that he had intentionally harmed Naomi, but did admit he may have injured the baby by playing "too rough" with her, the complaint says.

Andritsch faces up to 80 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if he is convicted. As a juvenile, he served time at the state's Ethan Allen School, a juvenile correctional institution for boys, after being convicted of sexual assault, according to Koss. In 2001 he was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of felony bail jumping, following a conviction for burglary and theft.

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