GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two and half years after Silas Potter killed his adopted dad, two of Silas’s brothers are speaking out in his defense.
“The way the facts are being presented is black and white,” said Eli Potter in a Zoom interview Saturday with News 8.
“In Silas’s story, there is gray,” he said.
Eli Potter and his brother Zeke told News 8 Phillip Potter and his wife had 15 children, four of whom were the couple’s biological children.
Eli, Zeke and Silas were among 11 children adopted by the Potters, according to the two brothers.
Both reached out to News 8 Friday as we prepared to report that Kent County’s prosecutor fought Silas’s release from a locked facility.
In May 2020, Silas shot and killed his adopted dad at a house in Kent City, a small town in Northern Kent County.
Investigators said Silas shot Phillip Potter because the 61-year-old was trying to prevent him from accessing pornography.
In October of this year, the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital notified prosecutor Chris Becker’s office that it was processing Silas for discharge.
It had been five months since a judge ruled Silas incompetent to stand trial in his father’s murder, determining he could not, now or in the future, assist in his own defense nor understand the proceedings against him.
Becker said Silas has mental health issues and intellectual disabilities.
Court records have described him as having “bipolar affective disorder,” “severe mood disorder” and “intermittent explosive disorder,” among other reported conditions.
In a letter Becker sent the hospital protesting Silas’s impending release, Becker called the 20-year-old “exceedingly dangerous … due to his mental condition.”
“It was my understanding they were going to let him out to just like an AFC home here in Kent County, just a normal adult foster care home … where it’s not a locked down facility,” Becker told News 8 in an interview Thursday. “I really think he should be in a locked down facility … he committed a murder out of the blue.”
Eli Potter said the Silas he recalled from their years growing up “wanted to be your best friend,” loved exploring outside, and always had a “sparkle” and a smile.
Eli, 27, said he and Silas were both adopted by the Potters as infants and lived under the same roof for approximately eight years.
Zeke, who’s now 30, told News 8 he was adopted at four years old and lived with Silas for eight to 11 years.
Both brothers said the system failed their sibling by not ensuring he had the resources necessary to address his challenges.
“If he had gotten the proper help growing up, the proper care growing up, I don’t think we’d even be in this situation,” said Zeke, noting he was able to move in with relatives himself.
“Silas never had that luxury because nobody came into his corner. Nobody put their arm around Silas,” Zeke told News 8.
Eli shares Zeke’s perspective.
“Silas did not have it easy. Growing up was not easy,” said Eli, who now lives in Chicago.
Both brothers believe Silas requires professional supervision, care and treatment.
But neither thinks their brother is a public threat who requires locking down for life.
As it stands, Silas will remain in the locked-down Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital for up to 365 days.
The “Continuing Order for Mental Health Treatment” was filed in Kent County Probate Court Oct. 19, just days after the letter announcing his pending release.
Probate Court and Network180, the county’s community mental health agency, are responsible for overseeing Silas Potter’s treatment and, if mental health providers release him in the future, ensuring he has appropriate living arrangements in the community and complies with requirements involving medication and psychotherapy, among other preconditions.
If he’s released from the hospital but ordered to return due to noncompliance, he must abide by the order.
According to the continuing order for treatment in Kent County Probate Court, if Silas refuses to return to the hospital, “a peace officer shall take the individual into protective custody and transport the individual to the hospital designated by the psychiatrist.”