Brothers cleared after winning court decision in mom’s death

Ed White
Associated Press

Detroit – Two Detroit-area brothers who were accused of allowing their severely disabled mother to wither and die will not face murder charges after a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The court overturned a 2020 decision by the state appeals court and reinstated the opinion of a suburban Detroit judge who dismissed the case.

Vickie Balogh of Trenton weighed 79 pounds when she died in 2016 at age 52. She had an inherited terminal wasting disease known as SCA-I that had afflicted other members of her family.

The appeals court said there was enough evidence for a jury to determine if caregivers Grant and Gabriel Balogh had harmed their mother and were responsible for her death.

But the Supreme Court said District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson did not abuse her discretion in finding just the opposite.

The Supreme Court noted the “progressive nature” of Vickie Balogh’s condition and her ability 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 sons caused their mother’s death, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in a one-page order.

Dr. Lokman Sung of the Wayne County medical examiner’s office said Balogh’s death was linked to her body deteriorating from malnutrition. But defense expert Dr. L.J. Dragovic said the death could be attributed to pneumonia and the complications of her devastating illness.

“It’s a great victory for the brothers though there really are no winners here,” said defense attorney William Winters. “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.

“The court made their own determination of the sufficiency of evidence. … This case represents a disturbing instance of MSC inserting itself in a clear question of fact,” Worthy said Friday.