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SD man accused of killing infant pleads guilty to manslaughter

Gerald Brink

KENNEBEC, S.D. -- A Vivian man whose infant daughter died from head trauma and brain injuries pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter on Thursday morning.

Gerald Brink, 38, accepted a plea bargain in which the state agreed to drop the remaining charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery of an infant.

Although first-degree manslaughter can be punishable by up to life in prison, as part of the plea agreement, the state cannot argue for more than 50 years imprisonment at Brink’s sentencing, which is scheduled for the morning of Dec. 14.

When asked to provide an account of what happened on May 4, 2017, Brink responded only to questions from his attorney, Brad Schreiber.

Brink indicated that on that date, he and his daughter had been alone in the home. He had tried to throw his daughter into a bassinet, and he said that he was unsure of whether or not her head hit a dresser when he threw her.

“There was a possibility, but I wasn’t sure,” Brink said when asked if his actions led to the infant’s death.

Brink called 911 on the day of the infant’s death to report that she wasn’t breathing. She was pronounced dead at a hospital in Pierre. Later, an autopsy showed that she had skull fractures, contusions on her scalp and face and bleeding in her brain.

Prior to the change of plea hearing, which was held at the Lyman County Courthouse, a competency evaluation was completed, and it determined that Brink was competent to make a plea.

Hevin Mathis, the mother of the infant who died, was present via a webcam feed from the women’s prison where she is currently incarcerated. She indicated during the hearing that she would make arrangements to appear similarly at Brink’s sentencing.

Brink originally pleaded not guilty to all charges more than a year and a half ago, and a jury trial was scheduled for November. His change of plea hearing was arranged two weeks ago.

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