Lisa Cunningham in court in Phoenix, Arizona.  Picture: Sunday Night Channel 7
Lisa Cunningham in court in Phoenix, Arizona. Picture: Sunday Night Channel 7

Murder accused mum fronts court

Lisa Cunningham, the Australian mother facing the death penalty for the alleged murder of her seven-year-old daughter has appeared in an Arizona pre-trial court hearing today.

In a hearing lasting just three minutes, Lisa and her husband Germayne Cunningham were granted access to parts of an autopsy report and a phone containing what police allege were incriminating text messages about their dying daughter.

Sanaa, Lisa Cunningham's stepdaughter, suffered acute schizophrenia. She died from a sepsis infection following injuries to her head and foot in February 2017, prosecutors allege. Police allege she also had injuries on her writs consistent with the use of zip-tie restraints and a straight jacket.

Prosecutors allege the Cunninghams neglected and abused Germayne's daughter. Their other children are now under Arizona state foster care.

Lisa Cunningham with daughter Sanaa, right, and Nayara. Picture: Sunday Night Channel 7
Lisa Cunningham with daughter Sanaa, right, and Nayara. Picture: Sunday Night Channel 7

Mrs Cunningham, 43, is being held in solitary confinement and is denied contact with her surviving children.

Nine news correspondent Charles Croucher reports she was seen to mouth 'I'm doing okay' to family members attending the hearing.

Outside the Maricopa County Superior Court, defence lawyer Eric Kessler told media: "She's reading documents, communicating with us and from a health standpoint she's fine."

Kessler states her murder charge was one of the "grossest miscarriages of justice" he's ever seen.

He argues the Cunninghams have no case to answer: that Sanaa died from pneumonia, a known side-effect of the adult-strength antipsychotic Risperdal she had been prescribed by doctors.

Kessler said he plans meets with Australian Consulate to seek funding to continue the defence of Lisa Cunningham.

The next hearing has been set for February 28

Lisa and Germayne Cunningham. Picture: Sunday Night Channel 7
Lisa and Germayne Cunningham. Picture: Sunday Night Channel 7

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