GREENVILLE — Brooklyn Weimer has been severely abused at least twice in her two short years of life.
According to court documents, her mother describes her as a “tough little nugget” who “really doesn’t cry a lot.”
After the most recent victimization of Brooklyn, the little girl may never cry again.
The toddler remains in a medically induced coma at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids after being critically injured Sunday, March 24. She sustained life-threatening abdominal injuries, intracranial bleeding and severe brain swelling and lacerations were also found on her liver, indicating additional physical abuse, according to court documents.
A trial has been scheduled for May 29 to determine whether to terminate the parental rights of Brooklyn’s mother, Samantha Slater, age 26, Samantha Slater’s boyfriend, Benjamin Wilkins, age 26, and Samantha Slater’s former husband, Brent Slater, age 28. Parenting rights for all three are currently suspended. (This story has been updated to correct previous information which incorrectly stated that Brent and Samantha Slater were still married and that Brent Slater had adopted Brooklyn. Brent and Samantha Slater are now divorced and Brent never adopted Brooklyn.)
Brooklyn’s biological father is currently in prison. Her 4-year-old sister has been removed from the home and is care of the court. Attorney Tammi Shaw of Lakeview has been court-appointed as Brooklyn’s advocate. Shaw declined to comment at this time.
Brent and Samantha Slater were awarded joint custody of their two girls on June 28, 2012, while going through divorce proceedings. Brent Slater received primary custody of the two girls after Brooklyn was found covered in bruises last year.
The Department of Human Services received a referral on May 15, 2012, alleging physical abuse of Brooklyn, who was then 1 year old. According to court documents, Brooklyn had a left cheek bruise in a “classic slap mark” and bruising on her right cheek, forehead, above her right eye, behind her right ear and around her neck in the shape of thumb prints. She also had scratches on her neck, abrasions under her nose, blood pooled underneath the skin behind her right ear and black and blue swollen lips.
Samantha Slater told DHS officials she thought the bruises might be the result of an allergic reaction to medicine. She could not give DHS officials or police a consistent account of the previous day’s or night’s events.
Brooklyn was brought to DeVos Children’s Hospital for an examination. According to court documents, a doctor said “it looks like somebody smacked the hell out of her” and determined the injuries were a result of abuse. Brooklyn and her sister were removed from Samantha Slater’s home on May 17, 2012.
A petition calling for Samantha Slater’s parental rights to be terminated was dismissed last summer after Brent Slater was given primary custody of the two girls during divorce proceedings. Brent and Samantha also underwent counseling sessions via Lutheran Child & Family Service.
A man named Benjamin Wilkins was named in last year’s court documents about Brooklyn, but not as a suspect. At that time, Samantha Slater told police she and Wilkins were not dating, but that they had “fooled around” in the past.
A little more than half a year later, Wilkins made an odd series of telephone calls from a home on Grove Street in Greenville.
Wilkins called Spectrum Health United Hospital around 8:35 p.m. Sunday, March 24, saying his friend had jumped off a roof and was breathing, but unconscious. Wilkins asked what he should do. A nurse told him to hang up immediately and call 911. The nurse then called Montcalm County Central Dispatch to express her concern about the phone call.
Central Dispatch called Wilkins at 8:37 p.m. to ask about his phone call. Wilkins changed his story, saying his friend had not fallen off the roof, but that he and his friend had been wrestling and his friend got knocked out but was conscious now.
Then, at 9:02 p.m., Wilkins called Central Dispatch to request an ambulance for Brooklyn, who was unconscious. He later admitted to police that he had put Brooklyn in the bathroom for a timeout at 7:50 p.m. and later found her unresponsive. He said he had fabricated previous stories because he did not want police or DHS involved.
Last Wednesday, Wilkins was booked on a parole violation and lodged in the Montcalm County Jail in Stanton. He has previous criminal convictions on his record, including malicious destruction of a building in 2005 and larceny in a building in 2006.