1. Breaking News

Largo man punched, squeezed and killed 7-week-old baby, deputies say

LARGO — A 29-year-old man faces a charge of first-degree murder after deputies said he fatally beat a 7-week-old infant.

Artem Eydelman was arrested late Monday on the murder charge and two counts of violating his probation on past charges of robbery and and dealing in stolen property, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies gave this account of the incident:

Mariah Samon, 26, gave birth to Gwendolyn Eydelman on Sept. 26. Artem Eydelman was not the biological father and had met the mother while she was three months pregnant, deputies said. But he signed the birth certificate anyway.

Then on Nov. 17, paramedics and deputies were called to the home at 12091 117th St. N to investigate a report of an unresponsive child. The child was not breathing when deputies arrived, according to the Sheriff's Office, and paramedics rushed her to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The infant was under the care of Artem Eydelman, deputies said, while the mother was working. He told deputies that he fed the baby, then placed her in her bassinet in the couple's bedroom before falling asleep on the bed. When he returned about 15 minutes later, he told deputies she wasn't breathing. A family member called 911.

Gwendolyn was taken off life support on Nov. 19 and pronounced dead at 4:45 p.m. Doctors told deputies that the infant had suffered a severe skull fracture consistent, bleeding on the brain and several fractured ribs.

Deputies said they found several inconsistencies in the account Artem Eydelman had given them. They learned that on Nov. 17 he struck the infant in the head and squeezed her until she was rendered unconcious.

He was interviewed again on Monday, and deputies said he admitted to punching the infant out of frustration while changing her diaper, then squeezing and shaking her.

He was arrested and taken to the Pinellas County jail.