Man to face trial in death of child

By Katherine Wartell

An Ogden man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 6-month-old baby by shaking the child to death was bound over for trial in district court Tuesday morning.

Michael Dechant, 19, appeared in front of Magistrate Judge William Malcolm on the charges of first degree murder and abuse of a child younger than 18 in connection with the March death of Dominick Lubrano. The baby suffered serious head injuries, prosecutors said, while Dechant babysat the child in the Ogden apartment he shared with the baby’s mother, Sabrina Lubrano.

Det. Brian Johnson, the lead detective in the case, testified that Dechant admitted to shaking the baby to “shut him up,” and said he had shaken him on nearly a dozen other occasions.

Johnson said Dechant had expressed anger over having to watch the child and Lubrano’s other young son in their shared apartment. He said Dechant told him that he “wanted to smack it.”

Dechant was arrested a day after the police were called to the Parkside Apartments in Ogden for reports that the baby was unresponsive. According to a neighbor, Mary Tompkins, Dechant had brought the unconscious Dominick to her apartment, where she told him to call the police. Tompkins said she attempted to resuscitate the child with the help of a dispatcher.

The boy was rushed to Mercy Regional Health Center before being flown to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. He died three days after being admitted.

On Tuesday, Johnson told the court that he interviewed Dechant on three occasions before arresting him. He said Dechant did not admit to shaking the child until the second interview after Johnson had been informed by hospital staff that the child’s injuries were indicative of abuse.

According to testimony by Angela Adams, the boy’s grandmother, Dechant had been left alone with the child on the night of the alleged abuse while Adams and her daughter went to a nearby convenience store.

Adams said they were gone for only 10 minutes and returned to find the boy unconscious in the neighbor’s apartment.

Dechant was originally arrested for aggravated battery but those charges were amended after the child died.

During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, prosecutors called police officers involved in the case and Adams, while the defense, represented by public defenders Larry McRell and Mellissa Rundus, called Lubrano.

McRell questioned Lubrano on the couple’s living situation and asked whether she had ever dropped the child or whether he had fallen from the swing where he was often left to sleep. Lubrano admitted that he had fallen once.

After listening to about two hours of testimony, the judge determined there was probable cause in the case and bound Dechant over for an arraignment scheduled for August 12 at the Riley County Courthouse.

Dechant will appear in front of District Judge David Stutzman.

Assistant County Attorneys Kendra Lewison and Wes Garrison represented the state on Tuesday.

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