A Pennsylvania man accused of raping and killing his daughter will be held for trial, a judge ruled during a Tuesday court hearing in Montgomery County.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that an officer who responded to a 911 call from Austin Stevens in October testified during Tuesday’s hearing. Following the testimony, Judge Rebar ordered Stevens to be held for trial on all charges against him.
Charges include murder, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape of a child, aggravated assault, and related offenses.
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As CrimeOnline previously reported, Stevens, an assistant youth football coach for Lower Providence Warriors, was arrested following an incident on October 3 that left his daughter dead.
According to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, Stevens’ daughter, 10-month-old Zara Scruggs, was at home with her father when a 911 call was placed. At around 10:40 p.m., responding officers who arrived at the home found the baby unresponsive in a “blood saturated” diaper.
“She was in only a diaper and Mr. Stevens was standing at foot of the bed,” Officer Eric Honick, who responded to the 911 call, said during the hearing, according to The Sun.
“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.”
Honick reportedly testified that Stevens didn’t display any emotion during the ordeal and claimed the baby slipped and hit her head while in the bath.
“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,” Zonick testified. “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.”
First responders rushed Zara to the Einstein Medical Center in Montgomery County, where she was pronounced dead. The bloody diaper was handed over to the authorities.
An autopsy reported noted that Zara died from the blunt force trauma to her head. She also showed signs of sexual assault with “rectal trauma,” according to the Sun.
Steven’s lawyer, attorney Christian Hoey, argued that the child’s head trauma was “purely accidental.”
Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood argued that Stevens’ Google searches after the incident and his chats on social media showed that he waited to call for help, even though he knew Zara was gravely injured.
“I should be holding you,” Stevens allegedly told one woman online.
“Where you at, baby?” Stevens allegedly said to another.
“(Stevens) estimated he Googled for about 15 minutes before he called 911,” Detective Mike Crescitelli testified on Tuesday.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Stevens’ phone, which allegedly had search queries that included:
- 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
Stevens remains behind bars at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, awaiting his next hearing.
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[Feature Photo: Zara Scruggs/Facebook]