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Pittsburgh infant dies "as a result of child abuse;" babysitter from San Diego charged in killing

Pittsburgh infant dies "as a result of child abuse," authorities say
Pittsburgh infant dies "as a result of child abuse," authorities say 02:37

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A woman is facing several charges in the death of an infant she was babysitting in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood, as well as injuries to his twin brother, police said.

Nicole Virzi, 29, of San Diego, California, is charged with criminal homicide, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of children.

Police were first called to the Shadyside home after 11 p.m. Saturday for a report that a 1-month-old boy had fallen from his bassinet and had a bump on the head.

The six-and-a-half-week-old boy, identified as Leon Katz, was rushed to UPMC Children's Hospital where he died from his injuries, the criminal complaint said.

At the hospital, police said tests showed the boy had a severe skull fracture and multiple brain bleeds. An autopsy determined the boy died from blunt force trauma to the head, police said. His death is ruled as a homicide.

Doctors determined the baby's injuries were the "result of child abuse," investigators said.

The baby's twin brother was also examined and found to have scratches, bruising, swelling and redness, the criminal complaint said.

Police said Virzi told investigators that she fell asleep while the twin who died was in a bouncer seat. When she got up, she told police she went to get a bottle and came back to find him on the floor and screaming, the criminal complaint said. That's when she called the boy's parents.

Police arrested Virzi, a friend of the child's parents who was visiting from San Diego, and took her to the Allegheny County Jail. Her bond was denied. 

"Unfortunately, accidents do happen and it's a sad thing," Virzi's attorney, David Shrager, said. "It's an awful thing, but it doesn't mean someone is culpable."

According to the criminal complaint, the reason Virzi was watching Katz on Saturday night was because his parents had to rush his twin brother to the hospital for an injury to his genital area after being in Virzi's care earlier that day. 

"I would ask the public to always listen to the facts and not jump to conclusions and allow the facts to come out as appropriate," Shrager said.  

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