US lawyers reveal victim’s funeral feud that Lisa is innocent
Smith told the Sunday Mail how his client was glad to see the couple behind bars as their freedom was “way outside the normal” in similar cases.
“Since it has been going they have been literally been out of the streets, free,” he said.
“Normally folks that are charged with homicide, particularly of a child …. we’re glad they’re in custody.”
Mr Smith said his client was still grieving the loss of her second daughter and that it took 24 hours before she was notified about Sanaa’s death.
“Parents don’t expect to have to bury their children,” he said.
“One can only imagine the hopes and dreams and potential that you see in your children coming through their growing years all cut short because of carelessness and in some instances intentional harm that has been inflicted on such a young soul. (Sanaa) was a wonderful young girl. She was a loving, intelligent, very affectionate child. Just a remarkable young child (who) had a bright future ahead of her.”
Mr Smith, also a local pastor, said two funerals were held for Sanaa and that there was obvious tension between both families.
“We went to the graveyard together and literally one family sat on one side, the other family sat on another side,” he said. “To see that lifeless child laying there (was horrible).”
Mr Smith said he expected the court case to be to be a “long, drawnout process” and that it was “nowhere near the end of the road”.
Child protection authorities first investigated the Australian housewife and her second husband – a former robbery squad detective for the past 12 years who resigned over the case – in March 2016.
The family report that Sanaa suffered from schizophrenia and other mental health problems that caused her to lash out, and denied to investigators that the child or her siblings were abused or neglected.
But the court heard graphic evidence about her short life, uncovered during police investigations.
An autopsy concluded she died from “complications of sepsis” from “acute bronchitis”. She also suffered a foot abscess, multiple skin ulcerations and an unspecified schizophrenia spectrum disorder. The local medical examiner ruled the manner of death was undetermined and how the injuries happened remained a mystery. In a statement issued in December last year, an Arizona Department of Child Safety spokesman said officials “mourn” her death. He also paid tribute to the Goodyear Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney-General’s Office “10-month pursuit of justice for Sanaa”. “The facts surrounding this case were highly complex and required thoughtful compilation,” the spokesman said.
Arizona has executed 37 inmates, none of them women, since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Criminals are either gassed or given a lethal injection. But it has not been applied since the botched execution of a double-murderer in 2014.
Lawyers for the Cunninghams declined to comment. The case returns to court next month when the couple will attempt to have the murder charge dismissed.