RICHMOND, Va. -- The father of a 10-day-old child who died on Aug. 10 has been charged with child abuse and neglect after claiming their cat injured her.
Officers were called to a hospital on the night of July 30 after it was reported that the baby was brought there with injuries.
Detectives determined the injuries happened while in her home in the 200 block of North 4th Street.
Crime Insider sources said 23-year-old Matthew Sebolka -- the child's father -- had told police the infant was sitting in her car seat, and, when he returned from the bathroom, he allegedly saw their cat on the neck of the child.
Sebolka then called the mother of the baby, who arrived and noticed the child had puffy eyes and a rash, so she took the baby by bus to VCU Medical Center.
Sources said that the baby had bruising on the left side of her head, a skull fracture and signs of a possible suffocation.
"The law in Virginia is really broad on allowing the Commonwealth to demonstrate cause of death related to the original act of trauma which is usually shot, stabbed or, as in this case, what appears to be trauma to the head,” said attorney Ed Riley, who is not involved in the case.
On Aug. 10, the child succumbed to her injuries. The Medical Examiner determined the death be a homicide.
On Monday, Richmond Police detectives and the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Sebolka. He was charged with abuse and neglect of a child.
"If your client is the one that did that, it'll be very difficult to defend,” said Riley. “Then the question is: is it second-degree murder or manslaughter as far as the malice? If there's anger or fear that negates the murder and makes it a manslaughter case."
At this time, additional charges for Sebolka are pending. He is in jail with no bond.
Sebolka was found guilty of three charges of inadequate care by an animal owner. He also has a prior animal cruelty charge in Richmond that was nolle-prossed.
Anyone with further information about the homicide is asked to call Major Crimes Detective Sergeant D. Longoria at 804-646-6759 or contact Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.