Accused cop’s partner killed
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
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.