MONTGOMERY CO., PENNSYLVANIA — An officer, who responded to a crime scene in Pennsylvania where a dad allegedly sexually assaulted and killed his daughter, revealed to a court in Montgomery County on December 1, that the baby’s skin had turned gray when he arrived.
A judge, after the hearing, ruled that Austin Stevens, accused of raping and murdering his 10-month-old daughter, Zara Scruggs, will be held for trial on all charges against him.
The charges against Stevens, an assistant youth football coach, include murder, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape of a child, aggravated assault, and related offenses.
Officer Eric Honick, who responded to a 911 call from Stevens on October 3 this year, testified saying he arrived at the scene around 10:40 PM and found the child unresponsive in a “blood saturated” diaper.
Honick said, “She was in only a diaper and Mr. Stevens was standing at foot of the bed. She was unresponsive. Her skin was gray. I picked her up and put her on the floor to begin CPR. She was cold to touch.”
The officer also reportedly testified that the child’s dad did not display any emotion during the ordeal and instead claimed that the baby had slipped and hit her head while she was in the bath.
The officer added, “He said he stepped out to make a drink in the kitchen, he heard a thud, Zara began crying and he went back into the bathroom. He said he took her out of the tub and brought her into his bedroom and tried to comfort her by rubbing her body until she eventually calmed down. He said after he rubbed her body, her head tilted down and she became unresponsive. He said he immediately called police.”
Zara was rushed to the Einstein Medical Center in Montgomery County by the responders, where she was eventually pronounced dead by doctors. The diaper, which was nearly soaked in blood, was handed to the police to aid further investigation.
An autopsy revealed that the child died from blunt force trauma to her head and also showed signs of sexual assault with “rectal trauma.”
Steven’s defense attorney Christian Hoey argued that the baby’s head trauma was “purely accidental.”
Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood, however, argued that the suspect’s Google searches after the incident and his chats on social media suggested that he waited to call for help even though he knew that Zara was seriously injured.
Stevens allegedly told a woman online, “I should be holding you,” while he allegedly told another: “Where you at, baby?”
Detective Mike Crescitelli testified on Tuesday, saying, “(Stevens) estimated he Googled for about 15 minutes before he called 911.”
Investigators also obtained a search warrant for Steven’s phone, which allegedly had searches like, “What if you don’t hear baby heart or beat, My baby isn’t breathing, How do you know if a baby is dead, If baby stops breathing.”
The suspect is currently awaiting his next trial and is in prison at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.