West Chester – Dr. Christina Van de Poele, a coroner in Chester County, wanted to try something unusual.
Given the need to determine the cause of death of a county jail inmate (a relatively young man with no history of serious illness) this spring, Vandepol announced that he would call a coroner investigation Thursday. .. A process that her predecessor has not used for at least 50 years.
In an interview on Friday morning, she admitted that efforts in the county have rarely been tested lately and important details about how it will progress are still unclear.
“This is a new process,” says Vande Pol. “There are counties in the state that are investigating, but everyone does it differently. The law is so vague that we want to see how the process works. I think about it. “But it’s a coroner’s cry for how it’s done.”
However, within 30 hours of the investigation, the first phone call sent a subpoena to more than 300 county residents for a court reserved for a special session and hearing at the county judicial center. VandePol broke up because she expressed uncertainty or simply refused to answer questions about the procedure and its necessity.
In the middle of Friday afternoon, Van de Poele published a new press release, in which the cause of death of Dimitrios Mochalis was announced. A Westchester man was charged with beating, torturing and killing his girlfriend’s baby daughter. She said he died of “a sudden arrhythmia due to cardiac hypertrophy,” explaining a method of natural death.
“One was the result of two autopsies performed by a forensic pathologist in the coroner’s office and the other was the result of a private autopsy performed at the family’s request,” she said in a press release. Rice field. “Microscopy showed an abnormal and damaged myocardium. No fatal trauma was found in any of the autopsies. “
“A previously healthy 34-year-old man died in custody and needed a thorough examination on our part. That’s what happened, “she said in the press release. “A hearing on the cause of death was planned, additional discussions with witnesses were held in the preliminary proceedings and we received a private autopsy report. Because of this, I am currently concerned about unnatural deaths. No, the case is closed and I will not conduct an investigation. “
VandePol contacted on Saturday and was unable to explain who the witnesses were, what they said they were being investigated, or when and by whom they were questioned. Nor did she disclose when she received results from two autopsies upon discharge.
Mochalis, 34, died in Chester County Jail on June 18 and has been on remand since his arrest in November. He was charged by Westtown-East Gosen Police with a crime against the daughter of his friend Julian Stacy Lewis. These include the exacerbation of bodily harm, the threat to child welfare, illegal incarceration, incarceration, simple assault, and reckless endangering of others. The girl reportedly died after being discovered by rescue workers at her home in the Coventry Village neighborhood of Westtown, but has since recovered.
The prosecutor who charged him with assault after Moscaris on the 18th and declined further comments. No charges have been brought in this case to date.
The autopsy was done by his autopsy office, and Van de Poele said at the time that the results would not be available for a few weeks. In her first interview on Friday, she refused to disclose the causes or methods of death up to the investigation, other than that there was no “evidence of trauma”. ..
“Death in custody requires transparency,” said Dr. Vande Pol on Thursday in a press release. “The investigation is uniquely suited for this purpose. The deceased was only 34 years old and had no previous medical history. The investigation allows us to fully examine and examine all the evidence. You can have this case examined by the jury before you finish and issue a death certificate. “
However, she declined when asked to answer a variety of questions about how the process works, such as: B. who is named as a witness in the trial. She is also sure who will question the potential jury (a process known as preliminary hearing, usually carried out by the judge overseeing the case) or whether a jury will be chosen. He said he couldn’t have it.
In a normal jury selection, the judge oversees questions from the potential jury, but the other side selects the person. In this case, there does not appear to be any party other than the coroner. The district court administration has issued more than 300 special jury subpoenas for an investigation, and about 50 people will be taking part in the selection process on October 21, officials said Friday.
If VandePol decides to appoint a jury, it will consist of six members and two agents. The investigation will likely take a day.
The medical examiner’s cause of death hearing is a process approved by state law and is deemed to be a medical examiner’s hearing. According to a press release from Vande Pol announcing an investigation, the trial is not a trial and no one is found guilty or acquitted. Not used in recent Chester County memoirs, some observers say it was more than 50 years ago such a last hearing.
According to Dr. However, for Philip Riley, a 40-year-old medical examiner in Fayette County, western Pennsylvania, this was once a commonly used tool. In an interview, Riley said the investigative process would help determine who was responsible for the death if there were conflicting explanations about what had happened. He said they were usually used in drunk driving or fatal police shootings in homicides.
“These are formal oath hearings,” he said. Similar to grand jury proceedings, witnesses must testify under oath and face perjury or disregard of the court. “It’s a lot of work putting it all together,” he said. “But it sorts the facts.
“It’s nice to take responsibility,” he said. “Could be useful to other team members.”
According to Riley, the results of the investigation could be turned over to the prosecutor, who could decide who is accusing the death. “It can help steer them in that direction,” he said, who hadn’t conducted an investigation in recent years.
VandePol did not state in her release whether she was cooperating with the prosecutor’s office in an investigation or what she would do with the knowledge gained from the trial. Bottom. “I can’t comment on the plan,” she said.
Prosecutor Deb Ryan declined to comment on VandePol’s efforts as her office was still investigating Moscharis’ death. Brian McCarthy of Exton, an attorney who was representing Mochalis in criminal proceedings at the time of his death, refused to comment on the matter.
Mochalis was arrested and charged on November 23. The girl’s injuries appeared to be in line with “child torture,” Ryan said at the time. The girl was reportedly beaten, detained and quarantined for several days after being called after the police called her. Ryan called the case “painful”.
Police found the child in the bathroom upstairs at her home, where Mochalis said she collapsed during a panic attack. However, a physical examination of her body and subsequent hospitalization allegations by the defendant revealed that she had been beaten on her body many times in the past few days. Enough oxygen to cause brain damage. According to the medical staff treating her, she suffered from a “near death experience”.
Moscharis appears to have “punished” the child for minor family violations with his mother’s permission. However, police said the extent of the abuse escalated over time.
The 32-year-old mother of Westtown’s child, Lewis, remains in jail awaiting a verdict from Judge Anne-Marie Wheatcraft. At the end of August, she pleaded guilty to aggravating assault, conspiracy, kidnapping and endangering child welfare.
To contact the author’s representative, Michael P. Rerahan, call 610-696-1544.