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§ 948.21(1), Child Neglect — Sufficiency of Evidence

State v. Teresa L. Bellows, 218 Wis. 2d 614, 582 N.W.2d 53 (Ct. App. 1998)
For Bellows: Martha K. Askins, SPD, Madison Appellate


…The State was required to prove that: (1) Bellows was responsible for the welfare of her three children; (2) she intentionally contributed to their neglect; and (3) the children were under the age of eighteen. See Wis J I-Criminal 2150. Only the second element was contested and now forms the basis for Bellows’ contention that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction. Bellows argues that there was no evidence presented that the children lacked care, food, clothing or medical or dental care. She states that “[t]he conditions in [her] home did not seriously endanger her children” and maintains that “no reasonable jury could have concluded that she was seriously endangering her children.”…

… It is apparent from the testimony of the State’s witnesses that the lack of care provided for the numerous animals and birds in the house resulted in unsanitary conditions. The odor of urine was overpowering; urine soaked the mattresses and piles of feces were evident throughout the house. It was not unreasonable for a jury to conclude that living conditions such as these could cause the children to become neglected. We cannot say that “[no] possibility exists that the jury could have drawn the appropriate inferences from the evidence adduced at trial to find the requisite guilt.” See Alles, 106 Wis.2d at 377, 316 N.W.2d at 382. Therefore, we may not overturn the verdict.


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