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Family struggles with loss of six-month-old

By Katherine Wartell

Funeral arrangements are being made for a 6-month-old boy who died Monday after succumbing to injuries sustained three days earlier, allegedly at the hands of his mother’s live-in boyfriend.

While the baby’s family struggles to cope with the loss, members said Wednesday they are also trying to raise the funds to pay for the boy’s funeral. The funeral will be held March 28 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Methodist Church in Manhattan. There will be a viewing from 9:30-10 a.m. that will be open to the public.

Police were first called to the boy’s home at Parkside Apartments in Ogden shortly before 6 p.m. Friday for a report that the boy, Dominick Lubrano, was not breathing. The next morning, they arrested Michael Dechant, 19, who lives at the complex with the boy’s mother, Sabrina Lubrano, on a charge of aggravated battery in connection with the baby’s injuries.

When Dominick died Monday morning, those charges were amended to first-degree murder and child abuse.

Members of the boy’s family said the child was left with Dechant, as had been the case several times previously, while his mother bought groceries. Lubrano said she was only gone for six minutes on that errand Friday afternoon.

In that time, emergency personnel were called to the scene to treat the child for injuries that were originally diagnosed as a broken jaw.

Nancy Small, the boy’s great-grandmother, said the family does not believe Dominick was abused previously and adds that the alleged beating came as a shock. She said the family’s impression of the boyfriend was of a soft-spoken, well-mannered and trustworthy person.

Lubrano said that in the days since Dominick’s death she has been feeling lost and confused. “I just want him back,” she said, holding a smiling photo of her with Dominick and his older brother, who is one and a half.

“It’s been horrible knowing he was just alive and I was just holding him,” Angela Adams, Dominick’s grandmother, said. But she said she is thankful that she was able to hold the boy one last time at the hospital.

Dominick was flown to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City from Manhattan’s Mercy Regional Health Center on Friday.

“Little Dominick was such a beautiful baby,” Small said. “He is in God’s hands.”

According to Lubrano’s next-door neighbor, it was Dechant who called the police at the neighbor’s behest after he brought the child to her apartment on Friday.

She said that he appeared to be in shock and had trouble understanding what the dispatchers were telling him.

At the instructions of the dispatcher, the neighbor attempted to resuscitate the baby as emergency responders were sent.

Dechant is confined to the Riley County Jail on $1 million bond. His next court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26.

Readers can send donations to any Kansas State Bank branch in care of the Dominick James Lubrano Memorial Fund or send donations to the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616, Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, Kansas, 66502.

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