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Vivian man accused of killing infant set to change plea

VIVIAN — A Vivian man accused of killing his 7-week-old daughter in May 2017 first pleaded not guilty to all charges more than a year and a half ago. But on Friday, a hearing to change his plea was scheduled.

The hearing for Gerald Brink, 38, will take place at 10 a.m. Oct. 25 at the Lyman County courthouse. Attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment on whether a plea bargain has been made.

Previously, Brink's jury trial was scheduled to begin on the morning of Nov. 6 at the Lyman County Courthouse in Kennebec and to continue through Nov. 16.

According to court documents, Brink called 911 on May 4, 2017, and reported that his daughter was not breathing. The infant was pronounced dead that same day at a hospital in Pierre.

Brink reportedly denied any role in harming the infant at first, then said that the child had fallen off the bed while he was sleeping. A few days later, Brink said that after she fell off the bed, he tried to feed the infant, but when she spit up the formula, he hit her in the face, then threw her, causing her head to hit a dresser before she fell to the ground.

Court documents state that blunt force head trauma and traumatic brain injury were the causes of the infant's death, and the autopsy, which showed four skull fractures, four contusions on the scalp and face and bleeding in multiple parts of the brain, classifies the death as a homicide.

Prior to the cancellation of the jury trial, Judge John Brown approved a motion from the state to have Hevin Mathis, who is listed in multiple obituaries as the mother of the child who died, give testimony during the trial. Mathis is currently incarcerated in the South Dakota Women's Prison in Pierre and would have been transported from the prison to the courthouse and back on Nov. 7.

Lyman County State's Attorney Steven Smith declined to comment on why the state might have Mathis testify, and would not confirm or deny whether Mathis is the child's mother.

In January, Brink was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is qualified to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Brink was indicted on May 16, 2017, and he pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated battery of an infant and two counts of first-degree domestic manslaughter on May 24. Those charges are Class B, Class 2 and Class C felonies, respectively.

Since he was taken into custody last May, Brink has been held on a $500,000 cash bond. He will appear at trial in his street clothes, as was approved by the court on Oct. 10, 2017.

As of Tuesday, Brink's court-appointed attorney, Brad Schreiber, has logged $22,653.88 in compensation and expenses, including $3,690.09 for a private investigator and $2,400 for services with Dakota Forensic Counseling.

If convicted of second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter, Brink could spend life in prison; if convicted only on the aggravated battery charge, he could get up to 25 years.