Manslaughter charge added to Rochester man who declined care for son who later died
Darius Dwayne Pitchford, 34, is facing charges related to the death of his 3-year-old son last year. Attorneys will be submitting briefs next month regarding a motion to dismiss the case.
ROCHESTER — A Rochester man accused of withholding medical treatment from his 3-year-old son now faces a new felony second-degree manslaughter charge.
Darius Dwayne Pitchford, 34, was initially charged with felony neglect late last year after his son, D-Angelo Pavlovic Pitchford, was found deceased on Valentine's Day in 2022.
"We continually review our cases, evidence, theories and strength," Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem wrote in an email. He noted that it's not unusual for his office to amend criminal complaints. "In this case, after much review since it was first referred to us, we determined that second-degree manslaughter is an appropriate charge for the conduct at issue."
Ostrem's office previously decided not to pursue higher charges against Pitchford, citing the high burden his office must pass in order to secure a conviction.
Court documents from Pitchford's criminal case and a lawsuit filed by the boy's mother against Olmsted Medical Center, outline a day of suffering for young Pitchford , whose continuous vomiting was coupled with dehydration and lethargic responses. An autopsy showed that D-Angelo died due to complications of a paraduodenal hernia, a rare type of hernia that results from an incomplete rotation of the midgut.
Pitchford's attorney, Amanda Labriola, has filed a motion to dismiss the case due to the state's lack of probable cause. District Judge Lisa Hayne ordered Labriola to submit a brief arguing her position to the court by June 14. The prosecution, led by Assistant Olmsted County Attorney Arianna Whitney, has until June 28 to submit a response brief.
D-Angelo's mother, Andreja Pavlovic has filed a lawsuit against OMC and the doctor who treated her son, Dr. Luke Hunter. In the lawsuit, she claims medical personnel failed to intervene and help save her son's life. A motion to dismiss from OMC and Hunter was denied by a district judge earlier this year . The next hearing for that case is scheduled for April 12, 2024.
According to court documents:
When Pitchford brought his son to OMC, medical staff told Pitchford that D-Angelo was at risk of kidney failure and dehydration. He was told multiple times that further work needed to be done but Pitchford said he was being lied to. The child had a history of medical issues and he was brought to OMC several times over the course of his short life.
Pitchford signed D-Angelo's discharge papers in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2022, that noted "return to the ER as soon as possible. Your child may die."
D-Angelo was found by his mother, Andreja Pavlovic, lying on the floor of her bedroom, curled up in the fetal position and stiff to the touch. A paraduodenal hernia could have been seen on an X-ray, medical personnel told police, but D-Angelo's father took him before one was performed.