Judge again rejects Vandergrift man’s appeal of infant daughter’s death
A Westmoreland County judge on Wednesday rejected the appeal of a Vandergrift man serving a 40-year prison sentence for the murder of his infant daughter.
Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway ruled there was no basis for the appeal filed by Matthew Milisits, who contended his guilty plea should be vacated because he was given erroneous information by a former lawyer.
Milisits, 36, claimed he was told he would receive a sentence no longer than 10 years in prison when he pleaded guilty to a third-degree murder charge in 2014.
Police said he violently shook his 2-month-old daughter during a three-hour visit with the child in November 2012. The baby died from injuries sustained in the assault.
Hathaway sentenced Milisits to serve a 20-to-40-year prison sentence.
Hathaway, in a three-page opinion, said the official record from Milisits’ guilty plea hearing revealed that he was told the maximum sentence for pleading guilty to third-degree murder could be 40 years in prison.
“Because the testimony and the record belie defendant’s claims that his plea was unknowing and involuntary, there is no merit to defendant’s claims,” Hathaway wrote.
Two prior appeals of his conviction and sentence were previously dismissed by the judge.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]