The killing of a two-year-old child by the child’s father was the basis of a wrongful death action filed against the owner of the property upon which the tragedy occurred. To compound the horror of this incident, the property owner also was the mother of the perpetrator and the grandmother of the child victim.
The natural mother of the child, who resided elsewhere, sued the grandmother, alleging that the grandmother had a duty to control the actions of her son / tenant, and a duty to protect the child from the child’s father.
The defense’s theory developed by Diepenbrock during the trial was that the crime was the result of an acute psychotic, hallucinatory episode, triggered in part by a recent serious head injury suffered by the perpetrator, and by his drug use.
Diepenbrock offered evidence that the perpetrator had been, by all accounts, a loving and doting father to the child prior to the psychotic episode.
After a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding the grandmother was not negligent, and assigning zero fault to her. Mengelkamp v. Lahey, District Court of Stevens County, Kansas.