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Father of shaken Westmoreland baby now charged with her murder

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:21 p.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.
Sophia Ludwiczak, the 2-month-old girl who died Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, of injuries suffered after she allegedly was shaken violently by Matthew Milisits of Vandergrift. Submitted

A Vandergrift man who police say violently shook his infant daughter to get her to stop crying has been charged with criminal homicide in the wake of her death.

Matthew Christian Milisits, 30, of Sherman Avenue was arraigned on new charges by video conference from the Westmoreland County jail on Tuesday by Allegheny Township District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec.

Milisits is jailed without bond. He was previously being held on a $500,000 bond.

In addition to the homicide charge, Milisits still faces charges of aggravated and simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of children related to the death of Sophia Ludwiczak.

Two months old, Sophia was declared brain dead and taken off life support four days after the alleged incident on Nov. 15.

According to court documents, Milisits was alone with the infant at his home for about three hours on the morning of Nov. 15.

He told police he covered the infant with blankets in a car seat for the return trip to Sophia's North Apollo home, where she lived with her mother, Samantha Ludwiczak. When he uncovered the child, she took two gasping breaths and stopped breathing.

The infant was not breathing when paramedics arrived at Ludwiczak's home, and she was flown to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

A doctor said the infant suffered a brain injury from being severely shaken. She also had four bruises on her forehead.

At the hospital, Samantha Ludwiczak's aunt, who was not identified by name, told police Milisits used her computer to read about a Texas father accused of severely shaking his 2-month-old son.

When questioned by state police at the hospital that same day, Milisits allegedly at first denied knowing how the infant was hurt. He then said he accidentally struck her head off a bathroom door, but didn't think anything of it because she didn't cry.

Police say he then admitted to shaking the baby to get her to stop crying.

The infant was declared brain dead and removed from life support Nov. 19 at Children's Hospital. A death certificate said Sophia died from lack of oxygen to the brain caused by head injury.

Milisits is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the new charges at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before Yakopec.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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