Couple sent to prison in connection with infant’s death

February 27, 2019

A Somerset Borough couple were sentenced to 5 1/2 to 15 years in prison Tuesday for their role in the 2017 death of a 10-month-old girl.

Neither Michael Edward Wingard, 32, nor Angalina Miller, 29, displayed much emotion during their appearance in Somerset County court. Miller’s daughter Arianna died on April 14, 2017.

“It has been that way since the beginning,” said District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, who spoke to what she saw as the couple’s lack of accountability.

She said the couple failed to acknowledge that waiting two days to seek medical treatment for an ailing infant was “inappropriate.”

She said Miller never showed remorse or offered an apology.

“I believe that Wingard did it, but I hold you accountable because you know it,” Lazzari-Strasiser said to Miller.

The district attorney then told Judge D. Gregory Geary that as a mother, Miller had a duty of care and protection of her daughter, and the criminal justice system has a duty to protect the community from Miller and Wingard, who had that same duty when the infant was in his care.

Wingard was Miller’s boyfriend at the time.

He allegedly was watching the infant and his 3-year-old child when Arianna was injured on April 8, 2017. Miller was out in search of more drugs for the couple to use, according to court documents.

The infant suffered a subdural hematoma on the right side of the brain. A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood on the brain’s surface.

On the evening of April 9, 2017, a friend visited the couple’s apartment. He noticed that Arianna appeared to be limp and lifeless while lying in her Pack ’n Play, and he advised the couple to seek medical attention. Neither Miller nor Wingard took Arianna to the hospital at that time, police said.

On April 10, 2017, Arianna was admitted to Somerset Hospital. According to court documents, the couple told hospital staff that Arianna had been ill for two days.

The child was transferred later that day to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where a diagnosis of head trauma was confirmed. She died four days later.

Medical personnel indicated to detectives that the baby’s injuries were inflicted about 12 to 24 hours prior to the exam and were the result of intentional force.

Wingard and Miller were charged with numerous offenses, including homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide. As part of a plea arrangement, Wingard and Miller pleaded guilty Dec. 11 to aggravated assault, a first-degree felony, and involuntary manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

Both told Somerset Borough police that they did not harm the child and they did not know who caused the injury. That never changed, according to the district attorney.

She spoke of the “hours and hours” criminal investigators spent on the case. Both investigators attended the sentencing. One of them spoke to the court.

Criminal investigator Ruth Beckner gave a picture of Arianna to the judge. She stood in front of the bench, turned to Wingard, who was being sentenced, and spoke emotionally about the loss of the baby.

“She suffered greatly. . . . She didn’t deserve that,” she said.

Her partner in the investigation, Angelo Cancelliere, sat on a nearby bench in the courtroom.

Wingard’s attorney David Leake told Geary that his client’s “actions in this case show he is taking responsibility.”

“He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault,” he said.

Miller and Wingard must undergo supervised probation for five years once they are released from prison. Wingard was credited with 426 days of time served. Miller was credited with 93 days.

Miller was represented by Megan Will and Patrick Svonavec. Wingard was represented by Leake and Jaclyn Nichols.