Vandergrift man won’t get court-appointed lawyer to continue appeal for killing daughter |

Vandergrift man won’t get court-appointed lawyer to continue appeal for killing daughter

Rich Cholodofsky
State police charged Matthew Milisits of Vandergrift with murder on Nov. 28, 2012, for allegedly shaking to death his 8-week-old daughter, Sophia Ludwiczak. Sophia died from brain damage on Nov. 20, 2012.

A Vandergrift man serving up to 40 years in prison for killing his infant daughter won’t get another court-appointed lawyer as he continues to appeal his conviction and sentence.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway on Tuesday rejected a request from Matthew Milisits to have yet another attorney appointed to his case.

“I absolutely will not. I’ve already appointed three lawyers for you, and you’ve fired all three,” Hathaway said during a hearing in Greensburg.

Milisits, 39, was charged with killing his 2-month-old daughter during a three-hour visit with the child at his home in November 2012. Police said Milisits violently shook the child, who died from injuries she sustained in the assault. He pleaded guilty in 2014 to third-degree murder.

In September, Hathaway rejected Milisits’ latest appeal, saying there was no merit to his contention that he was misled by his privately hired lawyer. Milisits contended he was told he would serve 10 years in prison by pleading guilty to a reduced charged. Prosecutors originally charged Milisits with first-degree murder, a crime that carries a mandatory life prison sentence.

Since his guilty plea, Milisits has fired three lawyers appointed by Hathaway and paid for by taxpayers. Attorney Tim Dawson, who filed Milisits’ latest appeal, was fired in October.

Dawson said although he never met Milisits until Tuesday, he filed appeals on his behalf based on letters and legal matters submitted by his client.

Milisits claimed the appeal filed by Dawson, the third time that Milisits has contested his guilty plea and sentence, was “boiler plate.”

Hathaway told Milisits he will have to serve as his own lawyer should he continue to appeal his case, which is now pending before the state’s Superior Court.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]

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