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SD man accused of killing infant to undergo evaluation for insanity plea

Gerald Brink (Submitted photo)

VIVIAN, S.D. — A central South Dakota man accused of killing a 7-week-old girl will be evaluated by a doctor to determine if he can plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

On May 4, the infant allegedly fell off the bed while 36-year-old Gerald Brink was sleeping, and he later hit her on the left side of the face after she spit up formula. Brink allegedly told law enforcement in Vivian that he then picked the baby up and threw her, and she hit her head on a dresser before falling to the ground.

An autopsy revealed the infant's cause of death to be "blunt force trauma to the head and traumatic brain injury."

The diagnosis included four skull fractures, four scalp and facial contusions, as well as bleeding in various areas of the brain. The autopsy lists the manner of death as homicide.

Recently filed court documents indicate Brink will be evaluated by a Rapid City psychiatrist to determine if he is qualified to plead not guilty by reason of insanity to various felony charges, including second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

South Dakota Deputy Attorney General Robert Mayer said he is unsure if Brink intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but explained, pursuant to South Dakota Codified Law, that the plea would indicate the defendant is not responsible for his actions due to a psychiatric disease at the time of the criminal act.

Prosecuting attorney Steven Smith said it is unclear when the evaluation of Brink will be complete.

"Right now, I've seen nothing that leads me to believe (a plea of guilty by reason of insanity) is appropriate. But that's why they're doing this evaluation, to prove that," Smith said. "I'm waiting to see what happens with this myself."

Brink's attorney could not be reached immediately for comment.

Prior to his alleged admission two days after the infant's death, Brink denied striking the infant and said bruising on her face was likely caused by the baby's head falling forward and hitting Brink's chin and lip.

Brink is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter and aggravated battery of an infant. Brink was originally charged with first-degree murder, but charges were changed by law enforcement.

The difference between the first- and second-degree murder charges, according to South Dakota Codified Law, is that second-degree murder occurs "without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular person, including any unborn child." Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree murder is a Class B felony and does not carry the death penalty.

The sentence for second-degree murder is life imprisonment in the state penitentiary, and a fine of up to $50,000 may be imposed.