Involuntary Manslaughter Case Dropped Against 911 Dispatcher in Pennsylvania Woman’s Death

By Jun 9, 2024

Involuntary Manslaughter Case Dropped

Involuntary-In a significant legal development, prosecutors have decided to drop the involuntary manslaughter case against Leon “Lee” Price, a 911 dispatcher from Pennsylvania. Price had been accused of failing to dispatch an ambulance to the rural home of 54-year-old Diania Kronk, who died of internal bleeding a day later.

Involuntary-Case Overview

Involuntary-The decision to drop the charges was made by Greene County District Attorney Brianna Vanata, who based her conclusion on an investigative report indicating that criminal charges were not warranted in Kronk’s death in July 2020. Vanata reviewed the case thoroughly and determined that Price’s actions did not constitute criminal culpability.

Involuntary-“There was just no criminal culpability here,” Vanata stated during a phone interview. She emphasized that the previous decision to pursue charges two years after Kronk’s death—initiated by the then-district attorney Dave Russo—was erroneous, particularly as it came shortly after Kronk’s family had filed a lawsuit.


Involuntary-Background of the Case

Involuntary-Leon Price’s defense lawyer, Timothy Ross, expressed relief on behalf of his client, who had faced significant stress due to the charges. Ross described Price as a dedicated employee who had always maintained his innocence. He mentioned that Price was assured by an investigator soon after the incident that he would not face charges.

A recorded call between Price and Kronk’s daughter, Kelly Titchenell, highlighted the dispatcher’s reluctance. During the four-minute conversation, Titchenell described her mother’s deteriorating condition—mentioning her heavy drinking, weight loss, and yellowing skin. Price questioned whether Kronk was willing to go to the hospital, about a half-hour away in Sycamore, and expressed the need for assurance.

Despite Titchenell’s concerns that her mother might die, Price asked her to call back once she reached her mother’s home. Titchenell explained that she couldn’t find her mother’s landline and there was no cell service in the area.

When Titchenell arrived at her mother’s home, she found her mother nude on the porch, speaking incoherently. Kronk repeatedly insisted she was fine. An autopsy later revealed that Kronk’s death was due to internal bleeding. Titchenell did not call 911 again, believing that her uncle, who was supposed to check on Kronk, would handle the situation. Unfortunately, Kronk was found dead the next day by her uncle.

Dismissal of Charges

Despite the gravity of the situation, Vanata concluded that Price’s actions, while perhaps misguided, did not warrant criminal prosecution. At Vanata’s request, a judge withdrew the charges on Monday, with jury selection and a trial initially scheduled for the following week. Vanata had even approached Price about a possible plea bargain to a lesser charge, which he declined.

Former District Attorney Dave Russo defended his decision to file charges, asserting there was ample evidence to proceed and criticizing Vanata’s decision to drop the case as politically motivated. He highlighted that the involuntary manslaughter charge had previously withstood defense efforts to have it dismissed.

Family’s Response

Kelly Titchenell, Kronk’s daughter, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to drop the charges. “I feel that there was too much for the new district attorney to go through,” Titchenell said, suggesting that Vanata might have sought to avoid the workload of a trial. She expressed frustration that Vanata did not pursue the case further.

In response, Vanata, who had defeated Russo in the 2023 GOP primary by a significant margin, clarified that she had devoted extensive time and effort to review the evidence since taking office in January. “It definitely was not an easy decision to come to,” she stated.

Current Status of Involved Parties

Price, no longer serving as a dispatcher, now works in maintenance for Greene County. “Mr. Price did lose his job, and this, I’m sure, has been an ordeal for him,” Vanata acknowledged, also expressing her sympathy for Kronk’s family, who endured four years of legal uncertainty.

This case underscores the complexities and challenges involved in prosecuting public service workers for decisions made under pressure. It also highlights the significant emotional and social impacts on both the accused and the victims’ families. The resolution of this case brings some closure, albeit with lingering questions and emotions for all parties involved.

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