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Menasha man sentenced for infant death from fire

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Posted at 10:23 AM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-15 18:09:35-05

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) -- A Menasha man has been sentenced to four years in prison and five years extended supervision Friday in a Winnebago County courtroom for neglecting a baby who died from an apartment fire one year ago.

Vernon Williams also must maintain absolute sobriety. He previously pleaded no contest.

Back in September 2018, emergency crews responded to a fire at an apartment on First Street in Menasha. According to a criminal complaint, Williams was supposed to be watching children in the apartment but was sleeping. The complaint said Williams was later found to have a blood alcohol level of .257.

The complaint indicates the fire started after some of the children were playing with a lighter and some towels and blankets caught fire. The children were unable to wake Williams at first. Eventually Williams woke up and got out of the house.

According to statements in the complaint, Williams tried to go back into the building to get the baby, but a door knob burnt his hand, the floor had burnt his feet, and the smoke was so strong that he couldn’t see anything. A neighbor told police he had also tried to rescue the baby but was hindered by heavy smoke.

Firefighters were able to get the child out of the home and take him to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Medical records cited in the criminal complaint show the baby had severe burns covering 70% of his body. It was also documented that the baby had acute respiratory failure and burn shock. The complaint said the baby experienced cardiac arrest two separate times.