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Shaken baby has brain damage; father charged

| Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 10:19 a.m.
State police charged Matthew Milisits of Vandergrift with murder on Nov. 28, 2012, for allegedly shaking his eight-week-old daughter, Sophia Ludwiczak, to death. Sophia died from brain damage on Nov. 20, 2012. Submitted.

An 8-week-old girl was on life support at Children's Hospital on Friday after police say a Vandergrift man shook her so violently she suffered brain damage.

State police say Matthew Milisits, 30, of Sherman Avenue, admitted to shaking the baby Thursday morning because she wouldn't stop crying, according to a criminal complaint filed to support charges.

Milisits had custody of the girl Thursday between 8 and 11 a.m., according to police. State police initially identified the infant as Milisits' daughter, but he apparently said later that he isn't sure if the girl is his biological child, the complaint states.

When he returned the infant to her mother, Samantha Ludwiczak, of Wysocki Avenue, North Apollo, the infant was unresponsive, police said.

Before driving to Ludwiczak's home, Milisits covered the infant and her car seat with blankets. When he uncovered the baby at Ludwiczak's home, he said, she took two gasping breaths and stopped breathing, according to the complaint.

The baby was flown to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, police said. A hospital spokeswoman declined to provide information on Friday about the baby's condition.

Dr. Janet Squires, chief of Children's Child Advocacy Center, told authorities that the infant had four unexplained bruises on her forehead and that the infant was severely shaken, which caused brain injury, according to the criminal complaint.

Milisits initially denied knowing how the baby girl was injured.

However, while in the hospital waiting room, he allegedly used a laptop computer belonging to a family member to search the Internet and viewed a news article about a Houston father who was accused of shaking his infant son, according to the complaint.

He eventually told police he had accidentally hit the infant's head on the bathroom door, but the girl didn't cry out so he “thought nothing of it,” according to court documents.

He said the infant began to cry later and then soiled her diaper, so he fed her a bottle of formula. He told police that when she wouldn't stop crying, he shook her “violently” to try to get her to stop.

Afterward he gave the girl a bottle and she stopped crying, Milisits told police.

He was committed to the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of $500,000 bond on charges of aggravated and simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of a child.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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