Bret Dillon Jr. Bret Dillon

Bret Dillon Jr. was a happy little boy that was about turn 2 years old. It is not known if Bret Jr. suffered child abuse or not. He lived with his mother and her boyfriend in Tucson, AZ. The mother said he had fallen in the bath tub hitting his head. He died 2 days later. The autopsy report originally opined the baby died of blunt force trauma to the head, but the pathologist “changed his mind” about what may have killed him. The doctor said he now believes a heart ailment may have caused Bret Jr. to pass out and strike his head leading to excessive bleeding in the brain.
Some say they still think the child was beaten and are still trying to gather enough evidence to reopen charges pending further testing. A Pima County Superior Court judge dismissed murder and child abuse charges against a Tucson couple accused of killing the woman’s 1-year-old child, but hasn’t ruled on whether charges can be refiled.

 

Arizona Daily Star
Kim Smith, Arizona Daily Star

Judge Howard Fell dismissed the case against Melissa Julie Bizilia, 22, and Ryan Fitzgerald Sullivan, 34, at the request of prosecutors when the original pathologist on the case changed his mind about what may have killed Brett Dillon.

The doctor originally opined the baby died of blunt force trauma to the head, but now believes a heart ailment may have caused the boy to pass out and strike his head. The doctor and defense experts believe the ailment could’ve caused excessive bleeding in the brain.

This morning, defense attorneys Bobbi Berry and CeCelia Valentine lambasted the Pima County Attorney’s Office for filing charges against their client without waiting for autopsy results and then continuing to pursue the case despite the autopsy indicating the boy had the heart ailment.

They asked Fell to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning prosecutors would not be allowed to re-file the case.

“They knew from the beginning there were medical issues that needed to be explored,” Berry said of prosecutors.

Because of the nature of the charges, Sullivan has been held in isolation at the Pima County jail for 19 months and suffered mental health difficulties as a result, Berry said. 

Bizilia didn’t get to attend her baby’s funeral and spent weeks on suicide watch at the jail until she was released from jail in September, Valentine said.

“In this case, the state jumped the gun,” Valentine said.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Susan Eazer told Fell she still believes the child was beaten to death. She asked for the case to be dismissed without prejudice to allow for additional testing.

One of the defense experts has had his testing methods questioned in the past and some courts have not allowed him to testify in court, Eazer said.

She said the autopsy does not say the heart ailment, myocarditis, was a contributing factor to the boy’s death. It says rotavirus may have caused the excessive bleeding.

There is a chance the head injury resulted in the myocarditis because the boy’s blood was coagulating normally when he was brought to the hospital, Eazer said.

However, if the additional tests reveal the myocarditis existed prior to the boy’s head injuries, she won’t re-file charges, Eazer said.

Valentine told Fell myocarditis is listed on the second page of the autopsy report as a contributing factor.

The judge ordered the attorneys to write briefs on the issue and he will decide later whether to dismiss the case with prejudice.

Fell ordered Sullivan to be released from jail immediately.

Bizilia’s bail was lowered from $500,000 to zero in September. She is currently living out-of-state and up until today had been required to stay in telephone contact with the county’s pretrial services division. She had also been required to personally check in with the police chief of the community she is living in every Thursday.

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