Subscribe for 33¢ / day

A Madison man who was found unconscious in a filthy home with unattended children was sentenced Monday to three years of probation, with one of those years to be spent in jail.

Will E. Weaver, 59, who was arrested last year with Brittany K. Pearson, 32, after a relative found them unconscious in their home in the 5000 block of Hammersley Road on April 1, 2017, told Dane County Circuit Judge William Hanrahan that he had made some “bad decisions along the way” but was ready to accept responsibility for his actions.

Weaver pleaded guilty in March to four counts of child neglect, a misdemeanor, and felony bail jumping. Since his arrest he has had health issues, said his lawyer, Reed Cornea, including a back problem that left him paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair.

Weaver was sentenced to three years of probation, with one year of jail imposed as a condition of his probation. Both sides in the case agreed to probation, but Cornea argued that jail time was unnecessary.

The sentence that Weaver received was functionally the same as the one Hanrahan gave Pearson in January, except that he sentenced Pearson to prison, stayed that sentence, then sentenced her to probation with jail time, with the prison time to be imposed if her probation is revoked. Deputy District Attorney William Brown sought the same thing for Weaver, but Hanrahan declined to impose prison and stay it.

Four children were living with the couple in the home, which was found to be filthy and had little food for the children. Brown recounted the number of attempts in recent years that were made by local social services agencies to help the couple, who were addicted to heroin. The home was rented to them inexpensively by a local church, which kept them in the home despite complaints from neighbors.

Cornea argued that most of the calls from Child Protective Services were for things that Pearson had done and that Weaver was working until he lost his job. When Weaver came into the picture, he said, there was already substance abuse in the home.

Addressing Weaver, Hanrahan said that while raising children is a responsibility that requires no license or training, “you don’t have the ability to take care of a goldfish, let alone a human being.”

And while there were numerous attempts to help the couple, he said, “in the end, it takes a whole village to neglect a child, or a number of children here.”

The children have since been placed in the homes of relatives.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.