Michael Brooks pleaded guilty January 24 to a felony neglect charge in the death of his bedridden, morbidly obese wife. (Photo: Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press)
DETROIT -- A Michigan man entered a guilty plea Thursday to a felony neglect charge in the death last year of his bedridden, morbidly obese wife.
Michael Brooks, 38, of Warren, Mich., did not want to try the case, a decision his attorney said was a good one.
"He didn't want to relive it," said David Draper, his attorney. "We would have had to call his kids who are older. It would be hard on him. It's a traumatic thing for a child," Draper said after the plea was entered during a pretrial hearing before Macomb County (Mich.) Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni.
Brooks pleaded guilty to second-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult, a four-year felony. He is accused of allowing his wife, Yolanda Reese-Brooks, 40, to deteriorate while lying in her own waste.
Brooks told police he was the primary caregiver for his wife, who authorities said weighed 360 pounds. Brooks called 911 on Oct. 16 and firefighters in hazardous material suits had to remove a sliding door to extricate her from the couple's apartment.
Reese-Brooks died Oct. 22 of multiple injuries and complications of morbid obesity, according to the Oakland County (Mich.) Medical Examiner's Office. Authorities said she was bedridden after she sustained a crushed pelvis and ruptured bladder in a 2011 traffic accident.
Assistant Prosecutor Suzanne Faunce said Reese-Brooks was cut off from insurance but when it was restarted; her husband did not obtain it for her, which would have allowed her to have in-home health care. She said he also didn't care for his wife's personal hygiene.
"Mrs. Brooks was a vulnerable person. She was not able to do things for herself," Faunce told the court.
The Prosecutor's Office previously said Brooks told police he allowed his wife to remain in that state for at least eight or nine days. It also said the apartment was uninhabitable, with no beds or mattresses for the children and the refrigerator was empty except for spoiled meat on the bottom shelf.
Draper said the situation occurred not long after the family moved from Detroit to Warren.
"It was overwhelming for (Brooks) to take care of the kids and take care of her," he said.
Draper previously said the couple had been married since 2002, but had been together for 20 years.
Brooks is scheduled to be sentenced March 13.
The prosecution's sentencing guidelines are 10 to 23 months, while the defense has suggested sentencing guidelines of two to 17 months, Faunce said. Brooks could serve that time in jail, prison or alternative incarceration, she said.
The court is looking into a mental health jail diversion program for Brooks, which Draper said would be like a group therapy home.
Brooks remains out on bond. He is living with his brother and looking for work, Draper said.
The four children -- who were ages 2 to 13 at the time of Reese-Brooks' death -- are living with Brooks' sister. Brooks, who is taking parenting classes, spends a day with the children once a week, Draper said.
Draper said Brooks "wanted resolution" in the case and wants to get on the path to regaining custody of his children.
Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press