Joshua and Elijah Dziomba, the developmentally disabled brothers of a young Lockport man who died last March after wasting away in his Lockport home, officially began new lives Friday with the appointment of a guardian who vowed to act in their best interests.
Guardian Jill M. Plavetzki, an attorney, said Joshua, 24, and Elijah, 18, are thriving in a group-home setting and there are no plans to return them to their adoptive parents, Joy and John Dziomba.
Their brother, Jesse Dziomba, 19, who was also developmentally disabled, was found dead on the floor of his bedroom March 4 after being sent home ill from school three days earlier.
“Joshua does not want to see his adoptive parents,” Plavetzki said, after a hearing at which State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. elevated her status from temporary guardian to permanent guardian for the two surviving brothers.
The Dziombas, though, were granted permission to visit once a month with Elijah and to speak with him on the phone once a week. Because Elijah favors the visits, Plavetzki said she does not object and says the visits may occur more frequently.
Lockport police say their investigation into how Jessie died and whether criminal activity occurred continues.
Joy Dziomba, 65, declined to comment outside Kloch’s Lockport courtroom on why she and her husband, 66, did not seek medical attention for Jessie, whose cause of death was listed as the flu and an infection. An investigation by the state determined the teenager, sick with diarrhea, was not eating and was drinking only water after being sent home from school on March 1.
Thomas J. Caserta, the Dziombas’ attorney, has said that Joy Dziomba had been monitoring and caring for Jessie and that he did not appear to be in distress.
The investigation determined that Jessie’s brothers and another member of the Dziomba family were caring for him and that Joy Dziomba did not look in on the boy. When police were called to the home at 170 Lincoln Ave., officers found that the bedrooms of the adopted brothers contained rolls of toilet paper, portable commodes and locks on the outsides of the doors.
On Friday, though, with the start of a new chapter, those details were not rehashed.
Leigh E. Anderson, the lawyer assigned to represent the surviving brothers, reported to Kloch that she had met earlier with Elijah and Joshua and that both wanted Plavetzki as their permanent guardian. Also expressing support for the appointment was attorney Matthew E. Brooks, representing Niagara County Social Services.
Caserta informed Kloch the Dziombas did not object to Elijah’s having Plavetzki appointed but wanted Joshua to give a statement regarding his situation before a permanent appointment was considered. Kloch denied the request.
When asked what will become of the balance of a more-than-$200,000 structured settlement awarded to Jessie in a lead paint exposure lawsuit, Caserta said that matter will be addressed by the court.
He said it was his belief that the Dziombas had filed the lawsuit on Jessie’s behalf. The exposure to the lead paint, it was determined, caused Jessie’s developmental delays with cognitive functions.
Plavetzki said she is researching details of the settlement on behalf of the surviving brothers.