Police: Mt. Lebanon man punched infant daughter to death because she was fussy |

Police: Mt. Lebanon man punched infant daughter to death because she was fussy

Megan Guza
Joseph Gazzam

A Mt. Lebanon father repeatedly punched his infant daughter, killing her, because she “was fussy,” Allegheny County police alleged Monday.

Joseph Gazzam, 30, first told police that the child fell out of bed while the two napped late Sunday morning, according to a criminal complaint filed against Gazzam.

An autopsy revealed a fractured arm, brain bleeding, lacerated heart and kidney, broken ribs, bruises and hemorrhages behind 4-month-old Victoria's eyes, according to the county medical examiner.

Police measured the distance from the edge of Gazzam's bed to the ground – just over two feet, according to the complaint.

Gazzam is charged with homicide.

Police and paramedics initially responded to Gazzam's Osage Road home just before 12:30 p.m. Sunday for a report of an unresponsive child, according to Lt. Andrew Schurman. Paramedics took Victoria to St. Clair Hospital, where she was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Gazzam told police he was caring for the infant while the child's mother was at work, according to the complaint. He said after changing and feeding Victoria, they lay down for a nap, and he fell asleep with the child tucked into the crook of his left arm.

When he awoke, he found the infant face-down on the floor, unresponsive, according to the complaint. When police asked about Victoria's broken arm, Gazzam allegedly said he “forcefully removed her from her bassinet” earlier in the day.

Confronted with his daughter's autopsy results, Gazzam allegedly told police that Victoria was fussy and “would not stop crying and would not fall asleep again.” He said he became angry.

“Joseph stated that he punched her twice in the head, punched her in the stomach and punched her in the back,” police wrote in the complaint.

Later, when Victoria stopped breathing and her eyes rolled back in her head, Gazzam called 911, police said.

In addition to homicide, Gazzam is also charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.