- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A District Court jury has convicted a Butte man of deliberate homicide in the death of his infant daughter last August.

Jurors returned their verdict against Matthew Blaz on Thursday afternoon after hearing closing arguments that morning.

Blaz, who had been free on bond, was handcuffed and returned to jail. District Judge Kurt Krueger ordered a presentence investigation. He did not schedule a sentencing date. Blaz could face up to life in prison.

Prosecutors alleged Blaz, 32, beat his 8-week-old daughter, Mattisyn, and failed to seek medical help for hours, by which time the baby’s eyes were swollen shut and she wasn’t breathing.

Blaz testified Wednesday that he believed a 12-year-old neighbor boy had dropped Mattisyn while Blaz was speaking to a letter carrier.

“I could see (the boy) with my daughter in his arms,” Blaz said. A few minutes later, he said the baby shrieked. The letter carrier said he didn’t hear a cry, and the boy testified he did not pick up the baby.

Blaz said he noticed a mark on his daughter’s chin and thought the boy may have pinched her. He said he calmed her and put her down for nap.

State medical examiner Willie Kemp testified that Mattisyn suffered bleeding in her brain, neck and eyes and at least two skull fractures - injuries he said were forceful and intentionally inflicted.

On Monday, jurors heard a recording of the 911 call Blaz made several hours after he said he heard the infant scream.

In the call, Blaz said: “I think he dropped her or something,” referring to the neighbor boy. “She’s been breathing weird all day.”

He said he was concerned but was waiting to pick up his wife from work before seeking medical help.

“That’s not panic - that’s an alibi,” Deputy Butte-Silver Bow County Prosecutor Samm Cox said.

Blaz told investigators he picked up his wife from work and wanted to show her a mark on the baby’s chest.

As soon as she looked at the baby she started screaming, he said.

An emergency room doctor testified that the baby’s injuries didn’t match Blaz’s version of events.


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