CRAWFORD COUNTY - A 29-year-old Prairie du Chien man was charged July 21, in Crawford County Circuit Court, with one count of first-degree reckless homicide and being a repeater, in the death of a three-year-old boy, B.E.J.
Chase M. Harville faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. Furthermore, Harville faces up to six more years in prison if convicted as a repeat offender, because of a previous conviction, in 2015, for child abuse-intentionally causing harm.
According to the criminal complaint, on July 10, at 3:45 a.m., the Crawford County Communications Center received a 911 call regarding a young child who was not breathing. Sheriff’s department deputies responded to the scene at 61906 County Road N in Eastman Township.
Deputy Tony Berg, the first deputy to arrive saw the child’s grandmother, Camille Kapinus, attempting to perform CPR on the boy, according to the criminal complaint. The deputy attempted to assist in resuscitation efforts, but found the boy’s body to be extremely cold and stiff.
The boy exhibited what appeared to be substantial trauma to his head, with extremely dark black and blue bruising to both eyes and the entire width of his forehead, the criminal complaint stated. The boy also had a large, circular patch of hair missing from the top of his head.
At 4:10 a.m., first responders left the residence with the boy and took him to Crossing Rivers Health. Shortly after 5 a.m., the boy was officially pronounced deceased.
Later, on July 10, Dr. Michael Stier performed an autopsy at University Hospital in Madison and said that the boy’s death was the homicidal result of blunt force head trauma.
Camille Kapinus initially told investigators that the boy had banged his head on a countertop while roller skating in the kitchen, but later admitted that was simply the story that had been relayed to her by Harville, according to the complaint.
Kapinus said Harville had been the only adult in the home prior to her receiving a call at about 3:30 a.m. regarding the urgent need for medical assistance. Kapinus arrived at the residence shortly after receiving the call and found Harville holding the boy against his chest, according to the criminal complaint
Kapinus said that when she arrived, it was apparent the boy was not breathing and that his body was cold to the touch and had extreme bruising to his eyes and face. Kapinus further said in the criminal complaint that Harville had been with her at the residence up until the first deputy arrived and that Harville apparently left the residence shortly after first responders and more deputies arrived.
At approximately 2 p.m. on the afternoon of July 10, Harville was located outside the residence and was taken into custody, the complaint stated.
Investigators with the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation later interviewed Harville, and Harville allegedly admitted he was the only adult in the residence at the time the boy received his injuries. He also acknowledged that he was responsible for caring for the boy and two of his siblings while the children’s mother was at work.
Harville told investigators that the boy banged his head on the counter while roller skating and that his injuries were the result of the accident, according to the criminal complaint.
When pressed considerably with the fact that the boy’s injuries were inconsistent with that version of events, Harville admitted that the boy did not accidentally injure himself while roller skating, the complaint stayed.
Harville admitted that he was drinking beer and shots of brandy. In the late evening hours of July 9, the boy went into the kitchen and attempted to get cookies, so Harville snuck up behind him and grabbed him by his hair, picking him up off his feet, according to the criminal complaint. Harville demanded that the boy go sit down on the couch and ask permission for cookies, to which the boy responded by whining. Harville then grabbed the boy by his hair on the top of his head and “tried chucking him on the couch,” according to the complaint.
Harville told investigators that when he chucked the boy, a large clump of hair was pulled out of the boy’s head, and the boy missed the couch, smacking his head directly on the floor. Harville claimed the boy was alert after he threw him to the floor, but that his condition deteriorated over the course of a few hours. Harville said he contacted the boy’s mother, electronically, over the course of the night, but that he lied to her about the source and severity of the boy’s injuries, and that he did not attempt to secure medical assistance for the child, according to the complaint.
Harville was also charged on July 21, with one count of misdemeanor battery, domestic abuse that occurred on or about May 27. If convicted, he faces up to nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to another criminal complaint written over the May 27 incident, Harville and the boy’s mother, Erica Kapinus, got into a verbal argument over Harville’s desire to see his child before he might be apprehended by the authorities for an active arrest warrant issued by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Erica Kapinus said that she pretended to call law enforcement and Harville responded by punching her in the ribs, knocking the wind out of her, and by punching her in the face, causing her to bleed and swell. Deputies later observed injuries to Erica Kapinus consistent with her allegation.
Erica Kapinus said Harville then became aware of Kapinus’ daughter in the room, so she actually called 911 and he fled the residence. That day, deputies attempted to locate Harville in the woods around the residence, including through the use of a K-9 unit, but were unable to locate him, the complaint said.
Harville was also charged on July 21 in another criminal complaint, with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia for incidents that occurred on or about May 15. Harville faces up to a total of $25,500 in fines and 10 years and 30 days in prison if convicted of both these counts.
According to the criminal complaint, on May 15, a probation agent conducted a search of a residence at 723 N. Wacouta Avenue in Prairie du Chien, which is owned by Harville’s parents. The agent searched Harville’s bedroom and found a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana, along with a pipe. Under the bed, the agent found a black case containing an M&P 9mm handgun with three magazines filled with Winchester 9mm ammunition, the complaint stated.
Harville was on extended supervision because of his conviction in 2015 for child abuse, intentionally causing harm.
Chase M. Harville, charged with first-degree homicide was in court, on Wednesday, July 22 for his initial appearance.
Harville appeared via a television screen from his Crawford County Jail cell as Judge Lynn Rider read the four counts against him and the penalties if he is convicted of all counts.
There were 10 people in the audience in the courtroom. Others could see the hearing via Zoom.
Harville said he understood the charges against him and the penalties associated with each count.
Rider asked Harville if he had an attorney and Harville said he did, but he didn’t know where his attorney was. Because Harville’s attorney wasn’t present, Rider scheduled an adjourned initial appearance for Monday, July 27.
On Monday, Harville again appeared by Zoom video conference. His attorney, Jeremiah Meyer-O’Day, also appeared electronically. Two preliminary hearings were set for Thursday, July 30, beginning at 2:30 p.m., at which time evidence could be presented and cross-examined. Then, if the judge determines probable cause against the defendant, a trial would be scheduled.
Also, Monday, bond conditions were modified. If bond were to be met, Harville is required, according to Judge Rider, to have “no contact with one the departed child’s parents, with the initials B.J.”
Harville has been charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide, repeater for the incident that occurred on July 17. He is also charged with misdemeanor battery, domestic abuse; possession of a firearm by a felon; and possession of drug paraphernalia for incidents that occurred previous to July 17.
In addition, Judge Rider explained there could be a bifurcated sentence regarding the charge of possession of a firearm by a felon if Harville is convicted. A bifurcated sentence means that a penalty enhancer of not less than three years could be added if certain conditions are met.(Ted Pennekamp is a co-editor of the Courier Press in Prairie du Chein)