STANTON — A Greenville man waited until the last minute to accept a plea deal in a child abuse case involving his girlfriend’s young daughter.
Benjamin Wilkins, 26, pleaded no contest on Friday to second-degree child abuse and being a habitual offender second offense. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced at a late date in 8th Judicial Circuit Court. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as a guilty plea by the court.
Wilkins had previously faced up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree child abuse, but he took a plea deal from the Montcalm County Prosecutor’s Office instead. The plea deal was set to expire Friday.
Wilkins is the boyfriend of Samantha Slater, whose 2-year-old daughter Brooklyn Weimer has been hospitalized since March 24 with severe abdominal and brain injuries.
Wilkins previously pleaded no contest to a civil abuse/neglect charge in Montcalm County Juvenile Court.
Criminal child abuse charges against Slater were dismissed, but she continues to await a civil trial in Juvenile Court, which will determine whether she should have her parenting rights terminated. Slater’s civil trial is scheduled for July 31.
Attorney Tammi Shaw of Lakeview remains Brooklyn’s court-appointed advocate.