A 29-year-old Pennsylvania man accused of beating his 10-month-old daughter to death allegedly Googled the terms “If baby stop breathing,” “What if you don’t hear baby heart or beat,” “My baby isn’t breathing,” and “How do you know if a baby is dead” before seeking help for her, prosecutors say.
Austin Stevens was arrested on Tuesday on aggravated assault, aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, rape of a child and endangering the welfare of a child charges stemming from his alleged actions on Saturday.
According to a statement from prosecutors, the Lower Providence Township man had served as an assistant coach for the Lower Providence Warriors youth football team.
Authorities allege the assault on little Zara Lynn Scruggs occurred Saturday evening.
Afterwards, between 9:27 p.m. to 10:22 p.m., Stevens allegedly used his phone to search Google for information about babies in distress.
Investigators allege Stevens also chatted over text and Instagram with two different women during that hour. None of the conversations involved discussion of his daughter’s condition.
© Provided by People Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office Austin Stevens
Police allege he finally called 911 just before 10:40 p.m.
Police and emergency medical technicians responded, and began performing CPR on the unresponsive baby. Zara was taken by ambulance to Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, where doctors declared her dead shortly after midnight.
Detectives confirm that Stevens had joint custody of his baby girl.
Prosecutors allege an autopsy on Zara’s remains revealed she had been sexually assaulted and had sustained blunt force trauma to the head.
“This case is deeply disturbing,” stated Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele. “It is hard to imagine this child’s death being any more traumatic: sexual assault on an infant, followed by inaction by the father to save her life, led to her death.”
Stevens has not entered pleas to the charges he faces, and is being held on $1 million bail.
Information on his lawyer was unavailable at press time.
Friends of Zara’s mother have launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the baby’s funeral expenses and to establish a foundation in her name.
According to the page, Zara “was smart. She was silly. She was sassy. She was perfect. She was a beautiful baby and brought so much beauty into hundreds of lives. She brought us together, and we will fight for her forever.”