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Mother convicted in 2013 child abuse case

A 27-year-old Wabeno mother convicted of child abuse after investigators said her then nearly 2-year-old son was critically physically abused by her boyfriend is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Jennifer Shepard pleaded no contest Tuesday to failing to prevent bodily harm to a child, child neglect resulting in great bodily harm, aiding a felon and obstructing an officer.

The incident happened in October 2013.

Last October, Shepard’s boyfriend, Brandon Brunette was convicted of child abuse after a family member said the boy was left in a permanent vegetative state requiring around the clock care.

According to court documents, Brunette told investigators he went to the bathroom and heard the boy fall of the couch. He said he picked up the boy, and the child kicked him with his leg that was already in cast. Brunette said he lost his balance and dropped the child from a chest level height. The toddler had reportedly broken his leg weeks earlier after he fell down the steps.

Brunette said the boy cried but seemed fine and he put him to bed. Brunette said later the boy had vomit coming from his nose and was limp that’s when he called 911.

The boy was transported to an Antigo hospital and then transferred to a Marshfield hospital after his injuries were determined to be life-threatening. According to the criminal complaint the boy began posturing– involuntary extensions of the arms or legs; indicating a brain injury while at the hospital.

According to the criminal complaint, a cellphone seized by investigators belonging to Shepard, had a recently sent message to Brunette stating, “as long as we keep our stories straight, we may be okay.”

During questioning with police the next day, Brunette said the boy did fall off the couch as previously stated and he did kick Brunette in the chest with his casted leg causing him to lose his balance and drop the boy. However, Brunette said the boy would not stop crying that’s when he grabbed him by the leg and threw him 10-15 feet into a wall or tv stand.

According to court documents, Shepard sent text messages to Brunette, while the boy was being treated in the ICU at St. Joseph’s in Marshfield informing Brunette of what she had told police.

According to the criminal complaint the text messages said, “as long as we keep our stories straight, we may be ok”; “I told him there were no drugs in the house, just so you know”; and “it doesn’t look good for you”.

Brunette was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 10 years extended supervision.


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