PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Mount Lebanon man convicted in death of his infant daughter is going to prison.
Gazzam was sentenced Wednesday morning to 21-42 years in jail with eight years of probation that runs consecutively.
#BREAKING: The judge sentenced Joseph Gazzam to 21-42 years with 8 years of probation that runs consecutively for the murder of his 4 month old daughter Victoria. The judge said “this is the most disturbing case I’ve ever had.” @KDKA pic.twitter.com/5HhzmPllgi
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) July 31, 2019
Police say Gazzam beat his daughter to death inside their Mount Lebanon home back in November of 2017 because she “wouldn’t stop crying.”
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller was inside the courtroom when the baby’s mother begged the judge to let him “rot in jail.”
The judge called this is the “most disturbing case” he’s ever presided over. For that reason, he gave Gazzam the maximum sentence for third-degree murder.
Police said Gazzam first told officers his daughter fell from the bed, but later changed his story.
Little Victoria died with fractures to her left arm and three ribs, a brain bleed, lacerations to a heart vessel and left kidney, as well as contusions to her liver, back and head. She also had hemorrhaging behind her eyes.
In court Wednesday, Victoria’s biological mother, Kayla Walter, said the way her daughter suffered at the hands of her father was “unforgivable.”
She asked the judge to put him in jail for as much time as possible.
Gazzam took the stand and read a statement to the judge and courtroom. He said he was “sorry” and that he “never intended” for this to happen. He said no amount of jail time will take away the pain caused by what he did.
He referenced his time overseas in the military, the abuse he suffered as a child before his adoption, and his drug and alcohol addictions as reasons for his “lack of impulse control.”
Gazzam’s adoptive mother, Diane Gazzam, said he’s never been violent and she doesn’t understand what happened that day.
“I don’t believe my son, Joe, would have done this intentionally,” said Gazzam. “He has always been the most gentle person and has never ever demonstrated any hostility or fights or anything like that, so I truly believe that he regrets what he did and that’s all I can say.”
The little girl’s mother was at work at the time, but other family members were downstairs. Another example, the judge said, of Gazzam not asking for help. The judge said he could have just put the girl in her crib and walked away, or gone downstairs and asked for help with the baby.