Montgomery County father charged with murder in death of 10-month-old daughter

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Father arrested on sex assault, aggravated assault charges in death of 10-month-old child
Officials in Montgomery County announced Tuesday the arrest of a man on charges related to the death of his 10-month-old daughter.

LOWER PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Officials in Montgomery County announced Tuesday the addition of murder charges against a man in the death of his 10-month-old daughter.

According to officials, police responded to a home in the 3400 block of Germantown Pike in Lower Providence Township on October 3 following a 911 call about an unresponsive baby.

Upon arrival, they found Zara Scruggs, the unresponsive infant, and her father, 29-year-old Austin Stevens.

The 10-month-old was taken to Einstein Medical Center Montgomery where she died.

Stevens was previously charged with involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated assault and other charges, authorities said.

RELATED: Family, friends hold vigil for Montgomery County 10-month-old allegedly beaten, raped by father

A search warrant of Stevens' phone showed that he had conducted multiple Google searches for nearly an hour before calling 911, authorities said. Subjects included "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."

Stevens also conducted social media and text conversations with two women during this time that were not related to the baby's condition, investigators said.

According to authorities, an autopsy on the baby determined that Zara Scruggs was the victim of a sexual assault.

A preliminary hearing on all charges is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m.