A brain-dead 13-year-old boy, whose adoptive father had heeded legal advice not to take him off life-support systems because of a possible murder charge, died today of head injuries.
Virginia Beach Police Lt. J. W. Pritchard said Dominic (Andrew) Diehl died at Virginia Beach General Hospital this morning while still on life-support equipment.
The youngster had been in a coma since Saturday when his legal guardians, Michael and Karen Diehl, were arrested on various child abuse and neglect charges.
The deeply religious Diehls were arrested at a school bus in which they lived with 17 natural and adopted children.
Andrew was hospitalized and the other children were taken into custody by Social Services authorities.
The Diehls, who moved to Virginia Beach from Post Falls, Ida., in March, have been featured on the Christian Broadcasting Network for adopting emotionally and physically handicapped youngsters no one else wanted. A hearing on the custody of their adopted children is set for Thursday in juvenile court.
Hospital authorities had said that the boy was brain dead and that the Diehls should make the decision to remove life-support systems.
The parents are in city jail, where the father is charged with felony child abuse and malicious assault and the mother with felony child neglect.
Pritchard said the charges against the father could be upgraded to manslaughter or murder .
Paul Sutton II, Diehl's attorney, had advised Diehl not to "address the decision of life support at all at this time."