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Vandergrift man's insufficient-evidence argument rejected in death of infant

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Westmoreland County judge on Tuesday rejected arguments from a Vandergrift man who said there was insufficient evidence linking him to fatal injuries inflicted against his 2-month-old daughter last year.

Matthew Milisits, 30, wanted criminal homicide and related charges dismissed, claiming in court that brain-trauma injuries sustained by his daughter could have been caused by another person.

“We don't know who had custody when it all started,” defense attorney Philip P. DiLucente said.

Prosecutors contend Milisits had custody of baby Sophia Ludwiczak when she was shaken.

Assistant District Attorney Judy Petrush said the baby also suffered injuries to her ribs.

Petrush said the prosecution will seek a first-degree murder conviction against Milisits.

DiLucente argued in court on Tuesday that investigators and doctors could not say for certain that the baby's injuries occurred while she was in her father's care.

Police said Milisits and the baby's mother, Samantha Ludwiczak, told doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh that the child was not hurt when the father took custody for a three-hour visit last Nov. 15.

The baby died four days later.

According to court records, Milisits told police he covered the infant with blankets in a car seat for the ride back to North Apollo to return her to Ludwiczak.

When he uncovered the child, Sophia gasped twice and stopped breathing, according to police reports.

The infant was not breathing when paramedics arrived at Ludwiczak's home and the infant was flown to Children's.

An autopsy determined that Sophia died from lack of oxygen to the brain caused by a head injury.

The prosecution contends Milisits later admitted to violently shaking the baby to get her to stop crying.

Judge Rita Hathaway said there was enough medical evidence to allow the case to go before a jury.

“There was statements by both parents who told doctors at the hospital the baby was fine when the baby was turned over to the father.”

No trial date has been set.

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