US lawyers re­veal vic­tim’s fu­neral feud that Lisa is in­no­cent

Sunday Mail - - NEWS -

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.

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