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January 25, 2013

Man pleads guilty to abuse in bedridden wife’s death

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN – A husband and father of four charged last year after his bedridden wife was found lying in her own excrement and died days later has pleaded guilty to a felony abuse charge.

According to court records, Michael Dewayne Brooks of Warren, 38, agreed to enter a guilty plea as charged on one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult-second degree – a four-year felony – during a pretrial conference before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Peter Maceroni Jan. 24.

Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith announced the charge against Brooks last fall after the Warren Police Department investigated the case that came to light when fire crews were dispatched to the couple’s apartment near 12 Mile and Hayes for a medical emergency Oct. 16.

Warren Fire Department paramedics reportedly found 40-year-old Yolanda Reese-Brooks bedridden and lying in her own waste in the apartment, which investigators said was filthy and infested with insects.

Firefighters used hazardous materials equipment to protect themselves as they removed Reese-Brooks, who was morbidly obese, from the apartment and transported her to a hospital, where she eventually died.

A medical examiner later ruled that Reese-Brooks’ death was accidental, brought about by injuries and complications stemming from a 2011 car accident that left her bedridden. The injuries included a crushed pelvis and a ruptured bladder.

The couple’s four children – ages 13, 11 and 2-year-old twins – were placed in the temporary care of Brooks’ sister, but 37th District Court Chief Judge John Chmura later ruled that Brooks could visit his children under the supervision of Macomb County Child Protective Services.

Smith cited “shameful neglect” when he announced the warrant charging Brooks, who was Reese-Brooks’ primary caregiver.

But Brooks’ attorney, David Draper, later said Reese-Brooks may have been reluctant to let anyone – even her husband – take charge of her medical care after the debilitating accident.

Draper also said his client’s responsibility to care for his wife and four children in the wake of the accident created a hardship that was extremely difficult to overcome and ended tragically.

“To properly defend this case, I’ve got to call the two older kids (to testify). They knew what a handful it was to care for mom. She was not an easy patient,” Draper said.

Brooks petitioned the court for sentencing consideration under a mental health jail diversion program that Draper said was granted in lieu of jail time.

Draper said the decision to plead guilty was his client’s to make and that it was done to bring resolution to the case that would, Brooks hoped, bring the family back together eventually.

Brooks is currently permitted to see his children for an extended visit one day each week. 

He remained free on a $10,000 personal bond ahead of sentencing in the case, scheduled for 9 a.m. March 13.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.