STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mother demands answers in death of 7-year-old daughter

Sylvia Norwood remembers her 7-year-old daughter as a bright little girl who loved to have fun with her older sister....

Posted: Dec 12, 2017 10:04 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2017 10:04 PM

Sylvia Norwood remembers her 7-year-old daughter as a bright little girl who loved to have fun with her older sister.

"She was just a child that you would want around and want around to wake up to her beautiful smile," said Norwood.

Sanaa Cunningham, 7, died in February 2017, after being rushed to urgent care by her dad and stepmom because she was having trouble breathing. Her father, Germayne Cunningham, a Phoenix police detective at the time, had sole custody of Sanaa.

Staff noticed bruises and scratch marks all over the little girl's body. She was immediately transferred to Phoenix Children's Hospital where she was found to be septic. She died hours later.

The Cunninghams told doctors and police that the little girl suffered from a host of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, and that her mental and physical health had been declining in the past two years. They also said Sanaa was self-harming and causing injuries to herself.

Norwood last saw her daughter in December 2015 and she claims at that time she was just fine with no signs of abuse or neglect.

"Things just began to change over the last couple of years and to be honest, I want to know what happened," said Norwood.

The mother claims her ex-husband started to deny her visitation or would only let the older child they had in common go visit her.

"When the visits started slowing down, I'm asking questions. I want to know why I am not getting my visitations and children, and I got no response," said Norwood.

Norwood understands that Sanaa being kept from seeing her could have triggered some emotional changes and acting out but she is not buying the severe list of mental illnesses with which her daughter was allegedly diagnosed.

Goodyear police also did not buy the story about the severe mental illness and self-hurting. After a 10-month long investigation, they say they found evidence of severe child abuse and neglect. On Dec. 1, 2017, a grand jury indicted Germayne and Lisa Cunningham each on one count of first-degree murder and 10 counts of child abuse.

"Child abuse in and of itself is very disturbing. in this case, it was extremely disturbing and ultimately lead to the death of a little girl," said Lisa Kutis, Spokesperson for the Goodyear Police Department.

[READ MORE: Former Phoenix police detective facing murder charges following death of 7-year-old daughter]

"I don't know how to make sense of this. There's [sic] days where I still don't want to believe it. But as more information continues to come out, I'm just starting to accept it for what it is and she suffers no more," said Norwood.

Quacy Smith has known Norwood and her daughters since they were little. He is also an attorney representing her in what he said will be a wrongful death claim.

"I personally believe that there was some pass given because at the time he was a police officer," said Smith.

The attorney is talking about calls to Goodyear police and the Arizona Department of Child Services on several occasions by Norwood and others to check welfare on Sanaa for suspected abuse. Neither agency would speak to prior involvement in the family or prior calls to the home.

"I think because he was a police officer, I think there was [sic] some things that were taken for granted. Passes given, some things that were taken at face value. And at the end of the day you're left with a deceased 7-year-old and family members with broken hearts," said Smith.

The police report details horrific alleged abuses by the couple. Police discovered the little girl would be restrained a number of different ways including with zip tie, arm braces and a large shirt tied into a straight jacket type restraint.

Other information police gathered pointed to the girl being forced to sleep outside on winter nights and having food withheld.

"She wanted to be loved. Don't nobody want to be neglected by their father, especially little girls. I didn't grow up with my father, so to know he didn't give her that relationship that she just wanted is heartbreaking," said Norwood.

Smith also wants to know, despite indictments on such serious charges, why the pair was not arrested and given a court date to appear to answer to the charges.

"You or I would be in custody. And so, I think we should play by the same rules. Let's deal the same cards to everybody," said Smith.

Cunningham resigned from the Phoenix Police Department in September, after serving 12 years as an officer and detective, cashing out on his retirement, nearly $125,000. At the time he was under criminal investigation by Goodyear and an internal investigation by Phoenix.

The Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training Board has opened a case against his certification. If stripped of his AZ POST certification, he would never be able to serve as a police officer in the state of Arizona.

The pair is due in court on Jan. 2. A judge will decide whether they can be released on bond, or should wait in jail.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Fayetteville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Decatur
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 57°
Scottsboro
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 192995

Reported Deaths: 2377
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30953459
Davidson26630306
Hamilton951995
Knox949779
Rutherford936189
Williamson531036
Sumner486598
Wilson351945
Putnam334940
Montgomery311144
Unassigned30425
Out of TN298627
Bradley296217
Madison292164
Sevier263815
Blount253524
Maury240924
Washington232836
Robertson222535
Sullivan219733
Hamblen193926
Tipton183219
Gibson170423
Trousdale16667
Hardeman158226
Wayne14995
Dyer138714
Bedford136417
Dickson127415
Coffee125413
Cumberland121718
Weakley120519
Fayette120419
Anderson120013
Obion119110
Henderson118924
Loudon11846
Carter117728
Greene116144
McMinn114625
Jefferson113014
Warren10757
Lawrence106713
Macon106721
Monroe105218
Hardin104716
Lauderdale99416
Haywood99221
Franklin9899
Lake9252
Roane9055
Carroll89920
McNairy89618
Bledsoe8624
White8479
Rhea84412
Hawkins82218
Cheatham81510
Marshall7785
Overton7586
Cocke7549
Smith73111
Johnson7262
Chester64310
Giles63117
Henry6289
Lincoln6241
Hickman5938
DeKalb57014
Crockett54219
Marion5338
Decatur5307
Fentress5263
Campbell4544
Claiborne4425
Polk39910
Grainger3863
Union3642
Benton3379
Jackson3315
Morgan3203
Grundy3095
Cannon2920
Unicoi2891
Humphreys2583
Sequatchie2381
Clay2335
Meigs2283
Houston2243
Scott2172
Stewart2142
Lewis2041
Moore1791
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1083

Community Events