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confronting text messages that led police to charge Aussie mum with stepdaughter’s murder

An Australian mother, who could face the death penalty in the US if convicted of stepdaughter’s murder, was charged after police found a series of text messages sent to her husband.

Lisa Cunningham, from Adelaide, and husband Germayne Cunningham are accused of abusing and neglecting seven-year-old Sanaa Cunningham, who died in February 2017. 

Sanaa suffered acute schizophrenia and other mental health problems, but died from complications due to sepsis and acute bronchitis. 

Text messages between Cunningham and her husband, given to an Arizona appeals court, reveal the couple had become overwhelmed caring for Sanaa’s condition, Adelaide Now reported.  

An Australian mother, who could face the death penalty in the US if convicted of stepdaughter’s murder, was charged after police found incriminating text messages sent to her husband. Pictured: Lisa Cunningham

Lisa Cunningham, from Adelaide, and husband Germayne Cunningham are accused of abusing and neglecting seven-year-old Sanaa Cunningham, who died in February 2017

Lisa Cunningham, from Adelaide, and husband Germayne Cunningham are accused of abusing and neglecting seven-year-old Sanaa Cunningham, who died in February 2017

Text messages between Cunningham and her husband, given to an Arizona appeals court, reveal the couple had become overwhelmed caring for Sanaa's condition

'I will not tolerate her behaving like an animal to get what she wants,'  Cunningham wrote to her Husband

Text messages between Cunningham and her husband, given to an Arizona appeals court, reveal the couple had become overwhelmed caring for Sanaa’s condition

Detective Noah Yeo told the court his suspicions the couple were allegedly involved with the child’s death grew after reading the chain of messages between the married couple. 

Mr Cunningham, a former police officer, wrote to his wife: ‘I don’t want her to sleep with her hands behind her back, for some people can die like that if they have certain health issues or are on drugs.’ 

In another text, the 45-year-old Australian said to her husband: ‘She’s not sleeping. She’s standing. And I am not dealing with her again tonight. It’s midnight … I’m not having her groaning and screaming and keeping everyone up playing her bulls**t.’

A message from Ms Cunningham on December 17, 2016 read: ‘I just got her put there so the kids can sleep. You can sort it out when you get home … I will not tolerate her behaving like an animal to get what she wants.’

‘Sanaa p***ed in the garage. Of course, it’s dark, so I stepped in it. So f***ing nasty. F*** it. I will give her nasty ass a Pamper. She can sit in it and get hose off when I get up.’ 

The couple appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court last week for a pre-trial hearing, over one-year before their criminal trial is due to start in July 2020. 

Mr Cunningham, a former police officer, wrote to his wife: 'I don't want her to sleep with her hands behind her back, for some people can die like that if they have certain health issues or are on drugs.'

Mr Cunningham, a former police officer, wrote to his wife: ‘I don’t want her to sleep with her hands behind her back, for some people can die like that if they have certain health issues or are on drugs.’

Detective Noah Yeo told the court his suspicions the couple were involved with the child's death grew after reading the chain of messages between the married couple

Detective Noah Yeo told the court his suspicions the couple were involved with the child’s death grew after reading the chain of messages between the married couple

Sanaa suffered acute schizophrenia and other mental health problems, but died from complications due to sepsis and acute bronchitis

Sanaa suffered acute schizophrenia and other mental health problems, but died from complications due to sepsis and acute bronchitis

The mother-of-six could become the first Australian woman executed in the US since 1851, if found guilty. 

She has two children from her first marriage, with an American pilot, and shares two children with her husband.

Cunningham is also the stepmother to her husband’s two children from a previous marriage, which included Sanaa.

The couple are attempting to dismiss their murder trial through appeal which would either lead to their release or send the case to another jury for a review.

They are arguing the jury were mislead by prosecutors with fake evidence, the judge made an error by excusing the misinformation and the 11 felony charges were worded vaguely and made a case for the defence impossible. 

The mother-of-six could become the first Australian woman executed in the US since 1851, if found guilty

The couple appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court last week for a pre-trial hearing, over one-year before their criminal trial is due to start in July 2020

The couple appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court last week for a pre-trial hearing, over one-year before their criminal trial is due to start in July 2020

Speaking from prison to the Sunday Night in September 2018, Cunningham said Sanaa (pictured) was not murdered. 'Nobody was murdered here. Nobody was killed, and nobody was abused,' she told reporter Matt Doran in a phone interview.

Speaking from prison to the Sunday Night in September 2018, Cunningham said Sanaa (pictured) was not murdered. ‘Nobody was murdered here. Nobody was killed, and nobody was abused,’ she told reporter Matt Doran in a phone interview.

Prosecutors are arguing the couple allegedly left Sanaa to die by not treating her ailing health and restraining her. 

The defence argued Sanaa’s behaviour had become overwhelming and the couple did what they thought was best but proved to be poor medical advice, which turned fatal.  

Speaking from prison to the Sunday Night in September 2018, Cunningham said Sanaa was not murdered.

‘Nobody was murdered here. Nobody was killed, and nobody was abused,’ she told reporter Matt Doran in a phone interview. 

‘She was not a burden to our family and that is not a fair thing to say to us or her siblings.’

‘And it’s not fair to her memory.’

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