Couple accused of murdering 7-year-old daughter to face death penalty

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- In a rare and shocking twist of fate, a former police officer could find himself on death row. The ex-phoenix detective and his wife are being held behind bars, without bail, both accused of abusing and killing the detective's 7-year-old daughter.

Germayne and Lisa Cunningham were first charged with the death of Sanaa Cunningham last year, but were not taken to jail. That changed this week, when a judge has ruled that there is enough evidence to pursue the death penalty.

"I was relieved they were put in handcuffs," said Sylvia Norwood, mother of Sanaa Cunningham. Sanaa would have turned nine this year, and Norwood has been waiting for justice.

Germayne and Lisa Cunningham were taken to jail Monday, each charged with 11 counts of child abuse and murder. Now - they're facing the death penalty.

"I don't think they deserve to die because where they are now," said Norwood. "I don't want to say karma, but they're getting what they deserve."

Goodyear Police detectives say the couple forced Sanaa to sleep outside, tied her up, locked her up, and didn't get her medical help. During the evidentiary hearing, prosecutors showed graphic photos of Sanaa's injuries.

"She lived as long as she could, due to having a wound on her foot," said Norwood. "Pneumonia, sepsis, she just living in distress, tied up. I was trying to put myself in her shoes. No child should ever have to go through anything like that in life. Ever."

Norwood and her attorney were in the courtroom when the Cunninghams were handcuffed. They say the couple showed no emotion.

"There hasn't been much remorse and acceptance of behavior in the whole process," said Quacy Smith, the attorney for the victim's mother.

The Cunninghams will likely be separated from the general jail population, since Germayne Cunningham is a former officer, and Lisa Cunningham tried to commit suicide in the past. The trial isn't expected to begin for at least a couple years, and there is a possibility of a plea deal.