The Dos Palos Police Department said it's now investigating the death of resident Doc Author Lowe as a homicide.
"Our investigation is now a homicide investigation," Chief Barry Mann said in a news release. "We are trying to answer a lot of questions as it pertains to how the injuries happened to Doc, and were any crimes committed that contributed to Doc's death."
Dos Palos investigators began investigating an incident in the early morning of Feb. 10 that left Lowe, 53, hospitalized in critical condition after he was found in front of the Pizza Factory.
He was taken to Memorial Hospital Los Banos, then transferred to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. Lowe suffered major injuries "not typically associated with a fall," a news release said at the time. Lowe suffered injuries to his back, head and face and died Feb. 26.
At the time, witnesses claimed that Lowe fell once, hitting the back of his head. But Mann said later in February: "We have seen a lot of people fall. However, his injuries are pretty severe for a simple fall. Concerns rest with the fact that Lowe has both injuries to the back of his head as well as the front."
Mann said he would ask for help from state agencies in the investigation. He said that at the time of the incident, Lowe had a blood-alcohol content of 0.30 percent, about four times the legal limit for driving.
California law contains a provision that an unlawful act that isn't a felony, which contributes or causes the death of another without malice, could warrant a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter, a Feb. 28 news release said.
"We believe we will have a determination within the next 30 days," Mann said in the news release. "We know that there were additional witnesses; however, two have not come forward. This is concerning."
The Lowe family has continually expressed their concerns to the Dos Palos Police Department, according to the news release.
"We have heard the family and promised them we will do what we can to provide them with answers to the events that led to the death of Doc, regardless of what the outcome of the investigation is," Mann said.
The news release said the department has reason to believe that a criminal act may have occurred that may have contributed to the death of Lowe.
"A homicide investigation designation does not indicate to this department that someone will or should be charged with causing a death of a human being," Mann continued. "It means that the death was not natural, and that death may have been the result of a criminal act."
The department is looking for help. If you have information, call the department at (209) 392-2177 or (209) 392-2176.