Father to Stand Trial for the Rape and Murder of His 10-month-old Daughter.
29-year-old Austin Stevens was arrested and charged with the rape and murder of his 10-month-old daughter Zara Scruggs back in October. Stevens, who worked as an assistant coach for the Lower Providence Warriors youth football team, had been with his daughter on October 3rd when the child allegedly fell and hit her head. Stevens, instead of calling for help, began texting multiple women as if nothing had happened.
According to reports Stevens sent a message to one woman saying “I should be holding you,” while texting another “Where you at, baby?” It would be hours before Stevens contacted help for his dying daughter.
Lower Providence Township patrol officer Eric Horick testified that when he arrived at Stevens’ Germantown Pike apartment shortly after 10:40 p.m. on Oct. 3, the child was lying on a bed wearing a diaper. She had no heartbeat, her skin was gray, and she was cold to the touch, he said. Horick said he preformed CPR before medics arrived.
Austin was “abnormally calm. There was no panic, no emotion,” Horick said.
Stevens and the child's mother had a custody agreement and the night before the baby died he'd picked her up from her grandparents house. Stevens said that he'd recently moved into his apartment and the heat had not been turned on yet but, the water wasn't too cold to bathe in. He says that he put Zara in the bathtub then, leaving her unattended, went to get a drink from the kitchen. He heard a "thump" and when he returned the baby had "hit her head" and was crying.
During the course of the evening Stevens began to search the web, using Google, with terms such as "If baby stops breathing,” “How to give CPR to a baby,” “What if you don’t hear baby heartbeat,” “my baby isn’t breathing,” and “How do you know if baby is dead."
“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.” That couldn't have been true due to the condition her body was in when the paramedics arrived.
After Zara was taken to Einstein Medical Center in Montgomery County authorities were alerted due to the nature of the case. When evidence was collected they also took the diaper she had been wearing which was soaked with blood.
Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood, who presented the case with First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann, contended that Stevens’ Google searches indicated that he knew the baby was in critical condition but he didn’t call 911 until after he had flirted with women and after his daughter was dead.
“I suggest this child was a complete inconvenience to him,” she told the judge.
The medical examiner has ruled that Zara died from blunt-force trauma but, she also had suffered injuries consistent with sexual assault.
Stevens is facing a multitude of charges including first-, second-, and third-degree murder, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape of a child, aggravated assault, and related offenses.
Our hearts go out to Zara's family.