'He said he blanked out:' 15 years in prison for Milwaukee man in punching death of 2-month-old

Kenta Evans

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man convicted in connection with the punching death of a 2-month-old boy was sentenced to prison on Thursday, March 5.

Kenta Evans, 22, pleaded guilty in January to one count of second-degree reckless homicide, and one count of child abuse -- intentionally causing harm.

On Thursday, Evans was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison and 10 years' extended supervision on the homicide conviction, and three years in prison and three years' extended supervision on the child abuse conviction. The court ordered the sentences be served concurrently -- for a total of 15 years in prison and 10 years' extended supervision. He received credit for 274 days' time served. A restitution hearing was scheduled for April 14.

He initially faced a first-degree reckless homicide charge.

Prosecutors said Jaquerrion Dancer died at the hospital after he was punched at a home near 28th Street and Chambers Street on June 5, 2019.

According to the criminal complaint, Dancer was admitted to Children's Wisconsin in respiratory failure. Doctors diagnosed the baby with skull fractures, hemorrhaging, and other brain injuries.

When investigators spoke with Dancers' mother, Jessica McNeal, she indicated on that Evans came over the see the baby. The complaint indicated once inside McNeal's residence, Evans "quickly switched from wanting to see (Jaquerrion) to accusing (McNeal) of having other men in the house." Apparently, Evans took McNeal's cellphone "and smashed it against the wall." The complaint said at some point, McNeal picked up the baby and backed away from Evans. After she sat down on a mattress, the complaint said Evans "started punching (McNeal) repeatedly with closed fists, all while (McNeal) was continuing to hold (Jaquerrion)."

Jaquerrion Dancer

Death investigation at 28th and Chambers, Milwaukee

The complaint said McNeal's sister took the baby from the residence -- and drove him to the hospital. McNeal mentioned calling police -- and that is when Evans apparently fled the residence.

Police later went to the home of Evans' mother -- and "located (Evans) hiding in a closet." He was arrested.

Once at Children's Wisconsin, doctors noted the baby had "swelling of the scalp." The child died from his injuries shortly before 9 p.m. later that same day. After an autopsy, the medical examiner indicated the preliminary manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Memorial for Jaquerrion Dancer

When police interviewed Evans the next day, he "admitted to being involved in an altercation" with McNeal. The complaint said during the altercation, "(Evans) attempted to take (Jaquerrion) away from (McNeal)." He apparently "tried to pulled (McNeal's) arms off of (Jaquerrion), became frustrated, and began punching (McNeal) repeatedly. Evans believed he struck (Jaquerrion) multiple times with a closed fist." When Evans saw the injuries to the baby's head, he "admitted he caused the injuries by punching (Jaquerrion)."

Kenta Evans

Loved ones said Evans was devastated by the tragedy -- as were they.

"Torn apart, because we lost our grandson," said Kenta Evans Sr., Evans' father. "He said he blanked out."

Evans Sr. admitted his son was wrong for throwing punches but said there was more to the story that McNeal didn't mention.

"Our son is taking responsibility for his part. He would never hurt that baby. You put this baby in harm's way by picking this baby up and using him for a shield. He is struggling, hurting behind this. He says, 'Dad, I miss my little man every day.' My son says, 'I miss my little man,'"  said Evans Sr.