The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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June 20, 2014

Infant born after shooting dies

— Abrianna Lyric Kovalcik was a full-term infant with no abnormalities when her mother, Caressa Kovalcik, died May 31 from a single shotgun blast to her face, the Cambria County coroner’s office says.

But the coroner confirmed that the same shot has now led to the baby’s death early Friday.  

Caressa Kovalcik’s boyfriend, Denver Blough, already is facing homicide and attempted homicide charges. Additional homicide charges are possible when the final autopsy report is compiled, including laboratory results. Those results can take up to eight weeks, state police said.

Police arriving at the 19th Street apartment on May 31 found Caressa Kovalcik mortally wounded, lying near the kitchen.

Emergency responders and doctors at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center sprang into action, delivering the baby by cesarean section in Johnstown. The baby girl was immediately whisked off to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

But the lack of oxygen to Abrianna’s brain that began when her mother was shot led to the 20-day-old baby’s death early Friday, Cambria County’s chief deputy coroner said on Friday.

“The baby died at 1:13 a.m. today at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh,” Jeffrey Lees, chief deputy coroner, said Friday afternoon.

“The preliminary findings are the baby died of a lack of oxygenated blood going to the brain.”

The preliminary manner of death is homicide, Lees said.

Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser and state police, in a joint press release, said the investigation is continuing.

“If the status of Commonwealth vs. Denver Blough should change as a result of autopsy results, a media release will be transmitted at that time,” the release said.

Blough was arrested the night of the shooting and remains in Somerset County Jail, charged with homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment. The couple’s 11-month-old child was in the home at the time.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled July 31 before District Judge William E. Seger in Windber.

Blough reportedly told a Windber police officer, “I shot her” when police arrived at the scene shortly before 7 p.m. May 31 to find Blough at the apartment.

State police said Blough later told troopers he and Kovalcik were arguing and that he broke his 20-gauge gun into two pieces, separating the barrel from its stock, the criminal complaint said.

“Blough related he took the barrel assembly out to a kitchen area to show Kovalcik, where it discharged into her face,” state police Trooper Ted Goins wrote.

Blough also allegedly worried aloud, “What’s going to happen to my baby?” 

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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