GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - The mother of an alleged abuse victim and her boyfriend have been arraigned on multiple charges of child abuse.
Brooklyn, 2, ended up on life support with a closed head injury at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids following a March 24 incident.
Samantha Slater, the girl's mother, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon. Hiding their faces from 24 Hour News 8's cameras and avoiding eye contact, family and friends sat in a tiny Montcalm County courtroom as they listened to the charges against their loved one.
"Samantha Slater did knowingly or intentionally cause serious physical and or serious mental harm to a child contrary to state law," Magistrate Richard Palmer told the young woman as she stared out at him from a video monitor.
She sat looking stunned as Palmer read out the charges against her, responding in barely audible, one-word whispers to the magistrate's direct questions.
Slater remains in Montcalm County jail on a $25,000 bond. She now faces a charge of first-degree child abuse, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. She faces an additional child abuse charge for "failing to call 911 and seek medical help immediately" when she saw her "unresponsive and/or unconscious 2 year old."
Slater's boyfriend Ben Wilkins faces the same two charges. He was arraigned Tuesday in the same incident. According to court documents, help for the girl was delayed after Wilkins made up stories because he did not want authorities to get involved.
Documents obtained by 24 Hour News 8 said that Wilkins called a Greenville Hospital saying a friend of his had jumped off the roof of his home, and he wanted to know what to do. 911 then called Wilkins aft the initial call to the hospital. At that time he said he and a friend had been wrestling and someone had been knocked unconscious.
It wasn't until more than an hour later that Wilkins called 911 for an ambulance for baby Brooklyn. Emergency responders found her unresponsive but breathing.
The second charge against Slater seems to say prosecutors may believe Slat may have also delayed in calling for help.
24 Hour News 8 learned that Brooklyn was treated in 2012 after sustaining injuries that doctors said were the result of abuse.
A police report 24 Hour News 8 obtained described Brooklyn as getting "hit multiple times severely in the face, neck, and ear area on her body."
Family court documents from the 2012 case described doctors finding a handprint bruise on her cheek, bruising on her forehead, grab-mark bruises on her shoulder, bruising over her right eye and neck, along with scratches, blood pooled under her skin and ear, abrasions under her nose, and black and blue lips.
When 24 Hour News 8 asked Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause why there were no criminal charges filed in that case, she said there wasn't enough evidence to charge anyone criminally with abuse.
She said multiple adults were "in the situation" at the time, and no one pointed the finger at anyone else. Brooklyn could not tell anyone what happened because she was 1-year-old at the time.
Krause said her office did file a non-criminal neglect case. Brooklyn was then put in the custody of her legal father, a man who had no allegations of abuse against him. He declined to talk to 24 Hour News 8.
Her legal father gave up custody a few months later -- Krause didn't know all the details why -- and Slater regained custody of Brooklyn in February 2013.
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