By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — Brothers Grant, 33, and Gabriel Balogh, 31, won a court case that cleared them of murder charges in connection to their severely disabled mother’s death.
The Michigan Supreme Court unanimously decided to reverse an April 2020 decision made by the state’s court of appeals.
According to the Associated Press, 33rd District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson had dismissed murder and abuse charges in 2017, a decision that was affirmed by a Wayne County judge.
So, the Supreme Court’s order reinstated the October 2017 opinion of Hesson granting the Balogh brothers motions for dismissal.
A March 31 order from the Supreme Court said that the 33rd District Court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence of the causation elements of the crimes charged to establish probable cause to believe that the defendants committed a felony.
“I believe it’s finally over,” Grant Balogh said on Facebook, thanking attorney Todd Flood and others on his legal team, according to the Associated Press. “It’s been four long years of our own personal hell.”
Vickie Balogh, of Trenton was 79 pounds and 52 years old when she died in 2016. She had an an inherited terminal wasting disease known as SCA-I that had afflicted other members of her family, the AP said.
In an April 2020 decision, the appeals court decided 2-1 saying there was sufficient evidence to allow a jury to decide whether caregivers Grant and Gabriel Balogh had abused their mother and were responsible for her death. The decision reinstated murder charges against the brothers who where accused of allowing their mother to die.
Dr. Lokman Sung of the Wayne County medical examiner’s office said Vickie Balogh’s death was linked to her body deteriorating from malnutrition, the AP wrote. But defense expert Dr. L.J. Dragovic said the death could be attributed to pneumonia and the complications of her devastating illness.
“Even crediting the prosecution’s expert medical testimony, in light of the evidence regarding the progressive nature of the decedent’s medical condition, as well as her capacity to make her own decisions, it was within the range of principled outcomes for the district court to conclude that ‘a person of ordinary prudence and caution’ would not entertain ‘a reasonable belief’ that the defendants caused the decedent’s death,” the Michigan Supreme Court’s order said.
Defense attorney William Winters told the AP, “It’s a great victory for the brothers though there really are no winners here. They’ve inherited, unfortunately, this dreaded disease that took the life of their mother. It’s just a curse.”
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s “terse order” and said the case should have gone to trial, according to the AP.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])