By Shereen Siewert
Less than two weeks before a jury trial was set to begin, a Wausau babysitter was convicted on homicide charges in connection with the death of a 2-month-old boy in her care.
Marissa Tietsort, 31, initially faced charges of first-degree intentional homicide in the boy’s death, which happened in October 2018. Police say the boy was dead when Tietsort put him in a snowsuit and car seat and returned him to his mother — without telling her the child had died.
During a hearing Thursday, Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson found Tietsort guilty of a reduced charge of first-degree reckless homicide as part of a plea agreement. Tietsort was also convicted of child abuse-intentionally causing harm, a charge filed in a separate case filed months earlier involving another baby for whom she was caring.
During a competency hearing in September, Tietsort changed her plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. But on Oct. 28, her attorney withdrew the insanity plea in the case, paving the way for a jury trial. The trial was set to begin Nov. 29.
Court filings show Tietsort had four of her own children removed from her care and is linked to at least two prior reports of suspected child abuse, one of which involved a 3-month-old girl who suffered a fractured skull. Tietsort and her boyfriend both denied harming the child but later refused to answer phone calls from detectives, according to the police report. Official charges were never filed.
In addition, a child abuse restraining order was filed against Tietsort in 2010 after allegations surfaced that she left her own child in a hot car on multiple occasions and stole prescription drugs from a friend.
Tietsort would have faced a mandatory life sentence if she had been convicted on the first-degree intentional homicide charge. First-degree reckless homicide, the second most severe offense in the state, is a Class B felony that carries a maximum prison term of 60 years. She faces up to six years in prison on the child abuse charge.
Tietsort will be sentenced on March 8.