Man's death after 1996 beating ruled homicide

Published On: Mar 07 2013 09:04:21 AM HST

The recent death of a man who was beaten near downtown Milwaukee 16 years ago is now being called a homicide by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.

According to a medical examiner's report, Joseph Hetzel, of Fond du Lac, was clinically dead after a fight in July 1996 in a parking lot near downtown Milwaukee.

His brother, Todd, said Hetzel was severely beaten in a fight in a parking lot on East Michigan Street after leaving Summerfest.

Todd Hetzel said his brother was "beaten and kicked in the head so severely, he was clinically dead" after having his "head caved in."

According to the report, surgery and coma would follow, along with paralysis on one side, but Hetzel would walk again but remain unable to read or write.

In 2009, Todd Hetzel said, his brother fell down a flight of stairs, and he was taken to Froedert, where he needed additional brain surgery.

Todd Hetzel said his brother's "fall was related to his immobility issues from 1996."

Hetzel eventually lived in a Fond du Lac hospice, but family members said he stopped eating because he was unable to swallow, which led to his death on Feb. 28, 2013.

Todd Hetzel told investigators he feels his brother's death is related to the beating. He said as many as five people beat his brother that day.

Hetzel said in the report that as many as five people attacked his brother.

The medical examiner's immediate cause of death is listed as "complications of blunt force injuries of the head."  The final manner of death is listed by the office as "homicide."


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