BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On July 21, a badly bruised five-year-old girl was life-flighted to Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital from Huntsville; her mom was arrested for first-degree child endangerment, according to court information.
The mom, Amanda Breshelle Gilbert, 27, of Bentonville, is Skylar Houston’s live-in girlfriend. Houston, 29, is the man who was arrested after a nearly seven-hour police standoff in Fayetteville on July 23, 2021.
On that same day, Gilbert, too, was being arrested for “Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the 1st Degree,” according to court documents.
At least two people gave information to the Bentonville Police Department (BPD) Criminal Investigation Division about their concern of a child who, “had injuries to her face … a shoulder was dislocated,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
One person, the child’s grandfather, went to the Bentonville police station to speak with an officer about “doing a welfare check on his five-year-old granddaughter,” since the previous day he briefly talked with Gilbert and Skylar Houston and was told the child was with Houston’s aunt in Huntsville, according to the document.
He stated he had not seen his daughter in a while and was concerned. According to the document, “he [grandfather] believes the male living with Amanda, Houston, is abusing them.” He stated Gilbert’s friend contacted him via social media, “and forwarded photos of the child showing several serious injuries.”
In early July, the friend and her boyfriend were visiting with Gilbert and Houston and noticed the child had injuries. The woman managed to take photos “without them [Amanda/Skylar] noticing it,” according to the affidavit. She shared the information with the child’s grandfather and also mentioned it appeared the child’s shoulder was dislocated.
In the picture, “the child appeared to have severe bruising around both swollen eyes, the whites of the eyes were bloodshot and it showed trauma had occurred to her face,” per the court document.
Two officers went to Gilbert’s house, but to no avail. They did reach her by phone and she told them that a babysitter she hired from Craigslist caused her daughter’s injuries as a result of a car accident. Gilbert then changed her story and said her child fell down the stairs with a toolbox.
Houston later told friends [the same ones who visited in early July] that the car accident “did not really happen.” He stated, “Amanda’s mother’s boyfriend abused the child but did not want to talk about it because it was going to get taken care of,” per the affidavit.
The police contacted Gilbert’s mom who told them the statement about her boyfriend was false, and that she refused her daughter’s request to lie about the last time she saw the child.
Detective Corporal Jason Beeler of the BPD was debriefed about the interviews and he contacted Gilbert by phone and managed to get her and the child to meet with a Hunstville police officer at the Walmart parking lot. The officers on scene sent Det. Beeler photos of the child, “with bruising all over her face and neck. Busted blood vessels in both eyes and both eyes were black. It was evident the child needed immediate medical treatment that Amanda had not attempted to provide for her,” according to the court document.
The child was immediately evaluated by officers and they determined EMS needed to respond. In turn, EMS contacted AirEvac to take the child to ACNW in Springdale.
Gilbert was arrested and her cell phone was seized by the officers. She was taken to the BPD, read her Miranda rights, and agreed to talk to Det. Beeler without an attorney present. Gilbert retold her story about how the child was injured — with a few additional details. Such as the babysitter took the child to her apartment and a man there “beat her with his fists in the face and then kicked her in the body multiple times,” according to the report.
Investigators noticed that Gilbert and Houston changed their stories several times to authorities. “Throughout the interview, Gilbert denied that she or Houston ever hit the child for any reason. She said they disciplined her by making her do ‘squats’ for punishment,” according to the affidavit.
Gilbert’s arraignment is scheduled for August 23, in Benton County Circuit Court Division 2 with Judge Brad Karren. She is in custody and held on a $20,000 bond, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Houston has a “violating bond conditions” hearing on August 13, a September 1 court hearing for “Terroristic Act,” and a trial is scheduled in mid-September for his April 1 multi-felonies involving drugs and guns.
Currently, Houston is in the Washington County Detention Center held on a $2 million bond.
SKYLAR HOUSTON’S DAUGHTER
In October 2019, Houston petitioned the Benton County Circuit Court for emergency visits to see his then three-year-old daughter. Houston’s attorney outlined seven reasons for the visits, including that Houston is the putative father of the child who was born out of wedlock.
Houston said that the respondent “has unreasonably withheld the minor child from him since approximately September 1, 2019,” and “the respondent is cohabitating with her current boyfriend … respondent allows her boyfriend to physically discipline the minor child.”
An agreed final order was issued on June 17, 2021, in Benton County’s Domestic Relations Division. The court determined, “the child’s mother shall continue to have primary care, custody, and control of the parties’ minor child.”
The court allowed for Houston to have supervised visits for one hour every other week and not be under the influence of drugs during the visit.