Authorities said Friday that a Woodbury man intentionally dropped his infant son headfirst on the ground in April, fatally injuring the 5-month-old.
The explanation he gave? The baby was crying and fussy and was being “difficult,” the man reportedly told investigators.
Matthew Hoisser, 35, of Woodbury was arrested Friday, three months after the death of his son Gus. The infant suffered head injuries that included a skull fracture.
Hoisser has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He was arrested Friday morning at his house in the 7100 block of Victoria Road.
According to his obituary, Gus Christian Hoisser died April 30.
What court records say happened
Hoisser told authorities he was caring for his son on the evening of April 24, from about 7:30 p.m. to midnight, and had trouble getting him to sleep, according to the criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court.
The boy “was crying and fussy and was being ‘difficult,’ ” the complaint states. “At one point, (Hoisser) was so frustrated he intentionally dropped the infant headfirst into the ground … intentionally causing him to fall to the ground and strike his head on the floor stunning (the baby) and causing him to continue to cry.”
At 6:30 a.m. the next morning, the boy’s mother said her son, identified as “G.H.” in court records, was “noticeably whining and whimpering” and would not take a bottle. She took the child to his home childcare provider in Woodbury about 7 a.m., telling the provider that the baby had only taken 2.5 ounces of formula and was “fussier than usual,” the complaint states.
The childcare provider put the baby down for a nap at 10 a.m. and when she went to check on him, he was “awake and fussy,” according to the complaint. When she went to change his diaper, she found him “limp and quiet.”
She called 911 and began administering rescue breaths.
The child was taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. He died five days later.
The cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Doctors said the head injury was so severe it would have left the infant permanently blind, deaf and unable to move, the complaint states. There also was evidence of hemorrhaging along his spinal cord.
Earlier head injury discovered
During the baby’s autopsy, the medical examiner found a second head injury that had “occurred prior to the most recent injury … likely within a week or two of the infant’s hospitalization.”
Hoisser told police he had caused that injury while changing his son’s diaper a few weeks prior to his death. He said he laid the boy on a portion of the floor where the carpet had been cut out, and that his “head hit the floor hard enough” that he could “recall the event in detail,” the complaint states. “G.H. was startled by the contact between his head and the floor. The defendant admitted that there were times that he was short with G.H. and that he was not always ‘super gentle’ with the infant. He said G.H. was a difficult baby that had colic and was consistently fussy.”
Both the boy’s mother and the childcare provider noted that the baby was “fussier than usual” on April 12 and had “unusual difficulty with feeding,” according to the complaint. “The daycare provider reported that G.H. was screaming loudly and was inconsolable.”
The mother said the infant, who normally took 6 ounces of formula at least twice between midnight and 7 a.m., had refused to eat.
“The daycare tried to get G.H. to eat because he was acting hungry, but he would start to scream when he would start to suck,” the complaint states.
The baby’s pediatrician diagnosed him with an ulcer on his soft palate and hand, foot and mouth disease, according to the complaint. He was prescribed Tylenol and did not attend childcare the following week.
The infant was brought back to childcare April 22 and “seemed to have normal days” until the incident, the complaint states.
“It’s just so tragic,” said Cmdr. John Altman of the Woodbury Public Safety Department. “It’s awful for the family, for the childcare provider, for all of us. We’re all parents here. It’s a difficult situation to process.”
Bail at $350,000 with conditions
Hoisser made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon. He did not speak during the 15-minute hearing except to say he has worked for a beer distributor the past six years.
Bail was set at $350,000 with the following conditions: no drug or alcohol use; submit to random drug testing; not possess any firearms or other deadly or dangerous weapons; remain law-abiding; make all future court appearances and have no contact with minors under the age of 18.
Washington County District Judge Ellen Maas also signed a domestic abuse no-contact order stipulating that Hoisser not have any contact with his wife, Nicole, or their unborn child; Nicole Hoisser is 10 weeks pregnant.
Hoisser’s attorney, John Leunig, asked that the no-contact order be reviewed as soon as possible; a hearing date was set for 1 p.m. Monday.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. … His wife is totally supportive of him,” Leunig said.
Judge Maas ordered that Nicole Hoisser be interviewed before Monday’s hearing.
Assistant Washington County Attorney Tricia Loehr said prosecutors asked for the no-contact order because “if he is able to do this to a 4-month-old, he could do this to his wife and unborn child.”
“I’ll sign it today, but it is subject to review,” Maas said. “I do know the allegations are horrific, but you are innocent until proven guilty.”
Prosecutors originally asked for $500,000 bail. Leunig argued for a lower amount, saying Hoisser is a lifelong resident of Minnesota, has deep family ties and is not a flight risk or a danger to the community.
“He has no (criminal) record, whatsoever,” Leunig said. “There is no worry of a risk of flight at all. As far as being a danger to the community, with respect to his wife, there is nothing to that whatsoever.”
Both Loehr and Leunig declined to comment after the hearing.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison if there is a conviction.
Hoisser’s next court hearing on the charges is 8:30 a.m. Aug. 19. He was being held at the Washington County Jail in Stillwater Friday.