Ac­cused cop’s part­ner killed

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - SEAN HOLSTEGE PHOENIX, ARIZONA

ADE­LAIDE ex­pa­tri­ate Lisa Cun­ning­ham’s hus­band, who also faces death row over the death of his daugh­ter, was a po­lice de­tec­tive whose for­mer col­league died in the line of duty.

Ger­mayne Cun­ning­ham was serv­ing in the Phoenix Po­lice Depart­ment, Arizona, when his daugh­ter, Sanaa, 7, died on Fe­bru­ary 12 last year.

He was work­ing in the depart­ment’s rob­bery squad and ev­i­dence room un­til Septem­ber last year – seven months af­ter Sanaa’s death – when he took three months be­reave­ment leave as the mur­der in­quiry in­ten­si­fied.

The 39-year-old, who also had a stint as a pa­trol of­fi­cer, is now be­hind bars charged along­side his wife with first­de­gree mur­der and abuse of Sanaa.

Mother-of-four Lisa, 43, could be­come the first Aus­tralian woman sen­tenced to death if she is found guilty of killing her men­tally ill step­daugh­ter in Phoenix.

An au­topsy found Sanaa died from sep­sis, ul­cer­a­tions and a foot ab­scess. Prose­cu­tors al­lege she was also phys­i­cally abused by the cou­ple.

It is be­lieved the cou­ple met in 2000 when they were both cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers.

Ger­mayne, who lived with his wife in sub­ur­ban Goodyear, first worked in a state prison, 80km south­west of the cap­i­tal. It was here he met his wife, then mar­ried to US air­man Rus­sell An­der­son.

Arizona Cor­rec­tions Depart­ment said Lisa – born in Ade­laide be­fore grow­ing up in Man­num – worked as a prison guard at Lewis prison from May 1999 un­til Novem­ber 2000. Her hus­band was em­ployed there from March 2000 un­til June 2004 be­fore work­ing at an­other prison un­til July 2005. Records show he then joined the Phoenix Po­lice Depart­ment that year.

His for­mer col­league, mar­ried fa­ther-of-two Travis Mur­phy, 29, was shot dead in the line of duty in 2010. Danny Ledezma Martinez, 36, was jailed for life with­out pa­role over the killing. In an on­line trib­ute, Cun­ning­ham said Of­fi­cer Mur­phy would “never be for­got­ten”.

He wrote: “Travis, I never took the time to thank you for just be­ing you – fam­i­ly­ori­ented, con­fi­dent, de­pend­able, and some­times a smart­mouth part­ner. Thank you.”

As the Arizona Child Safety Depart­ment in­ves­ti­gated three sep­a­rate child-abuse al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing Sanaa in the fi­nal months of her life, her fa­ther had re­strain­ing or­ders taken out against his exwife, Sylvia Nor­wood, 34, and his prison guard mother Va­lerie Dee Cun­ning­ham whom he blamed for tip­ping off child- wel­fare agents.

On the day Sanaa died, Ger­mayne waited hours to tell her bi­o­log­i­cal mother, long af­ter she could go to the hospi­tal to view her. He sim­ply told her: “Sanaa’s dead.”

He mar­ried Lisa in Au­gust 2015. Un­til his bail was re­voked, he at­tended court in a dark suit. A well-spo­ken and mea­sured man, he lis­tened in­tently, rarely speak­ing or show­ing emo­tion.

This week he ap­peared in court wear­ing an or­ange jail jump­suit. Much of the ev­i­dence in the case re­mains sup­pressed. The cou­ple is due to reap­pear in court next month. Pic­tures: SUPPLIED/ PHOENIX PO­LICE

Pic­ture: CAITLIN O'HARA

CHANGED FORTUNES: Judge Sam My­ers ad­dresses Ger­mayne Cun­ning­ham, flanked by his de­fence team.

CASE: Ger­mayne and Lisa, above; Sanaa, top right; and Travis Mur­phy, right.

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