The family of an Australian mother is incredulous at the fears that the mother of four children could face the death penalty in the United States if she is found guilty of the murder of her seven-year-old stepdaughter.
Lisa Cunningham, 43, and her husband Germayne Cunningham, 39, are accused of abusing and neglecting Sanaa Cunningham, who died of pneumonia and complications from sepsis in February 2017.
The couple is accused of tying the child to a water tank in a garage in his home in Arizona and not treating a septic wound in his foot.
Lisa Cunningham, 43, allegedly abused and neglected Sanaa Cunningham, who died of pneumonia and complications from sepsis in February 2017, by zipping her to a water tank in her garage and neglecting to treat a septic foot injury.
Sanaa was also forced to collect the feces of the dogs with her own hands and with a long-sleeved shirt, as the prosecution says.
On Monday, a Maricopa County judge ruled that Lisa and Germayne Cunningham would face the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutors allege that Sanaa could not expel the fluid from her lungs as a result of being retained, which aggravated her pneumonia and left her unresponsive.
Mrs. Cunningham's family claims that Adelaide's ex-wife is innocent, Sunday Mail reported.
What I know, honestly, I could not see her doing something like that. I really and truly believe that she is innocent. She was a very nice girl, "said cousin Julie.
Ms. Cunningham's uncle, Rob Topsfield, 70, said the Americans had been wrong about their niece, "it would not hurt a fly."
"I am really angry at the American judicial system at this time," he said.
Mr. Topsfield is disappointed that he can not fly to support his niece as she is under cancer treatment.
Prosecutors allege that the restrictions that Cunningham used to immobilize Sanaa (in the image) meant that he could not expel the liquid from his lungs, which aggravated his pneumonia and left him indifferent.
He states that Mrs. Cunningham is a compassionate person who cared about her two older brothers when her mother had mental health problems.
Mr. Topsfield said that Ms. Cunningham had a tragedy in her life when her grandmother and mother died in a short period of time when she visited Australia for the last time.
Ms. Cunningham was born in Adelaide, before moving around the country and living in the far north of Queensland.
She moved to the United States in the late 1980s as a teenager and later met her first husband.
Two weeks before pleading not guilty, Ms. Cunningham attempted suicide.
Lisa and Germayne Cunningham (pictured), the first of whom has lived in the United States for 20 years and comes from Adelaide, could face the death penalty after her hearing in October if she is found guilty.
The case could create a lack of diplomatic harmony since the Australian government opposes the death penalty.
She would be the first Australian woman to face the death penalty in the United States.
According to The Phoenix New Times, Sanaa's death was not reported by state welfare agents for months before a grand jury indicted them on 10 counts of child abuse and one on first-degree murder in December.
The couple was allowed to remain free until Monday, when Judge Michael Kemp ruled prosecutors had enough evidence to justify their goal of seeking the death penalty.
He said: "There were many warning signs regarding your need for medical attention.
– This was more than reckless behavior. This was more than a lack of attention and led to the death of the child. "
Cunningham and her husband Germayne Cunningham, 39 (pictured), were charged with 10 counts of child abuse and one of first-degree murder after Sanaa's death.
But Lisa Cunningham's lawyer, Taylor Fox, argued that doctors had different views on what killed the seven-year-old girl, who said the autopsy was inconclusive about whether Sanaa died or died by accident.
Fox also said that the defendant called a doctor two days before he died, but had to wait until Monday to book an appointment.
Lisa and Germayne Cunningham, a former Phoenix cop, were denied bail, with a hearing schedule for October.
Sanaa's mother, Sylvia Norwood, 38, is still grieving over the loss of her second daughter, according to her attorney Quacy Smith.
Mr. Smith told the Sunday Times that it took his client 24 hours to be notified of Sanaa's death.
"Parents do not expect to have to bury their children," he said.
Sanaa Cunningham had pneumonia at the time of her death, and the prosecution alleges that the couple's abandonment worsened her condition and left her unresponsive.
The method of the death penalty in Arizona is lethal injection, but a criminal convicted before November 23, 1992 can also choose to die by gas inhalation.
No one has been executed with the death penalty in the state since 2014.
The Australian had lived in the USA. UU For 20 years and is entitled to receive $ 500,000 in funds from the Attorney General, which provides support to Australians facing the death penalty abroad.