Former Home for Veterans caregiver won't get plea deal in abuse case

No plea deal for veterans abuse case

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (WZZM) - The 13 Watchdog team learned today a former caregiver charged with vulnerable adult abuse at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans will not be offered a plea deal in the case.

That sets the stage for Laurie Botbyl's trial to begin next Thursday August 31.

Earlier this year, a 13 Watchdog investigation prompted a second look by prosecutors at this case. New evidence obtained by the prosecutor prompted a misdemeanor abuse charge against Botbyl.

Shortly after our investigation aired in February, Botbyl was arrested and appeared in court for an arraignment.  At that time, Botbyl put in a plea of "not guilty".

It's clear the former caregiver who worked for the state's contractor J2s plans to fight the charge even though video shows her sending the wheelchair of an 83-year old veteran with dementia into a desk.

The video first obtained by the 13 Watchdog team shows a skirmish as Botbyl attempted to get the upset veteran, 83-year old Maynard Mathers, under control while he sat in a wheelchair. 
 
Seconds later, Botbyl places both of her hands on the chair's handles, pulled the chair in tight and pushed Mathers' wheelchair forward out of her control.  Mathers knees and right arm hit a desk and he's seen on the video grasping his knees after the incident.
  
In an exclusive interview Botbyl did with the 13 Watchdog team before she was charged, she told us she shouldn't be held criminally liable for the incident.

"My intent was not to hurt him," Botbyl said. "I did not do anything to intentionally hurt that man. I would never do that. I wanted him off me."

Originally the Kent County Prosecutor's office early last year declined to charge Botbyl because they didn't have information on injuries to Mathers.

The 13 Watchdog team through its investigation early this year did find information that Mathers was injured.  Kent County's Prosecutor Chris Becker then re-opened the case and filed this charge.

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