California dad accused of abusing 6-week-old girl

SANTA CLARA COUNTY -- A 32-year-old California father is accused of seriously injuring his baby daughter. Matthew Zabala is in custody for felony child abuse, and we've learned it's not the 32-year-old's first arrest.

This case is very similar to one involving the same father in a case from about six years ago. Both victims are girls and both were taken to the hospital for other medical reasons when doctors and nurses discovered likely signs of child abuse.

A 911 call brought an ambulance to an apartment on Boston Avenue in Santa Clara County's Burbank neighborhood. Paramedics took the 6-week old girl to Valley Medical Center where she was discovered to be in cardiac arrest.

But as they examined her and did scans, doctors discovered some disturbing trauma.

"They learned that there were over 14 fractures, including the skull," said Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. James Jensen. "Sheriff's office homicide detectives, child abuse detectives, and crime scene investigators were immediately called out to the scene."

After interviewing a number of people, detectives began to suspect child abuse. Their investigation led to the arrest of the infant girl's father,

Zabala declined an interview from the Santa Clara County Jail.

Superior court records indicate he spent seven months in the same jail, starting in 2010, after entering a no contest plea to felony child abuse.

Sunnyvale police reports say Zabala's other daughter, who was 4 years old at the time, suffered a high-impact blow to the right side of her head, leaving a cerebral contusion and causing internal bleeding. A younger child, a boy, was not injured.

They are believed to be the same children, now about 10 and 8, who they see visiting their father on Boston Avenue.

A nearby neighbor, Gloria, asked us to protect her identity.

Gloria: "He seemed to be a nice father, I'm shocked."
David: "He showed a lot of love and affection to the children?"
Gloria: "Yes. They would load up on the weekends and go out on trips, the whole family."

No one answered the door at the apartment where Zabala and the infant's mother live. He's also being charged with felony domestic violence.