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October 31, 2013

Pa. father squeezes 3-month-old into critical condition

The Times-Tribune

CARBONDALE, Pa. — Frustrated by his inability to stop his daughter's crying early Monday morning, a Carbondale father squeezed the 3-month-old until she made a "horrible gasping noise."

Once he heard the noise, Matthew Stirling Brown Jr., 22, 130 Westgate Drive, Apt. F-7, let go and began apologizing and kissing her, he told Carbondale police Detective Aaron Haley after he was arrested Monday.

But the damage was done.

Several of Amelia Brown's ribs were broken and there was damage to her lungs. She needed an incubator to breathe properly. In critical condition at Geisinger Community Medical Center, Amelia was later flown to Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville.

Detective Haley began his investigation Monday at GCMC, after being tipped off to a possible child abuse case by Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McCambridge and a Children and Youth Services caseworker.

An emergency room doctor told the detective there were several injuries on the infant. Some were new, like the broken ribs on both sides of her chest. Others were old and healing, like a possible upper arm fracture and other injuries to her ribs.

It is premature to say the old injuries are a sign of previous abuse, said Miss McCambridge, who noted the investigation is ongoing and additional experts will be consulted.

Detective Haley interviewed the baby's mother Brittany Condida first, finding she began a new job over the weekend, working an overnight shift at a rehabilitation center in Carbondale. When she returned home on Monday morning, she said she noticed her daughter was fussy and her breathing was strange. She called her daughter's doctor and scheduled and appointment for later that day, but then she noticed the bruising on Amelia's chin and forehead. A CAT scan taken later in Danville did not show head trauma.

They took the infant to a doctor, but they were referred to the hospital.

Ms. Condida confronted Mr. Brown over the bruising, but Mr. Brown said he did not know how it happened. Mr. Brown does not work, she told police, and watches Amelia and her 2-year-old daughter, Sylvia, while she is at work. Ms. Condida's parents were watching Sylvia on Monday, so Mr. Brown had full responsibility for the infant while she was away.

Mr. Brown was taken into custody Monday afternoon, but did not start talking until 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

Early Monday, he struggled to calm his crying child, he said. Amelia did not want to eat and swaddling was not working. He tried rocking her back and forth, but her cries continued. Then he started to hug her, tighter and tighter, until her cries were replaced by gasps. He said he let go and apologized as he kissed her. She finally fell asleep on his chest after drinking three ounces of formula.

Officers asked "why did you squeeze Amelia?" He told them he was frustrated. Custody of both children was given to Children and Youth Services.

Police charged Mr. Brown with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. He is in Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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