By CBS3 Staff

LOWER PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office says a 29-year-old father has been charged with first-degree murder in the October death of his 10-month-old daughter. Austin Stevens, of Lower Providence Township, is due in court Tuesday afternoon for the Oct. 3 murder of his daughter Zara Scruggs.

Authorities say Zara was sexually assaulted by Stevens before she died.

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Investigators found that prior to calling 911, Stevens had conducted multiple Google searches on his cellphone with subjects relating to, “If baby stop breathing,” “What if you don’t hear a baby heart beat,” “My baby isn’t breathing,” and “How do you know if a baby is dead,” for about and hour before calling 911.

Credit: Lower Providence Township

When officers arrived to the 3400 block of Germantown Pike just after 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, CPR was immediately conducted on Zara. She was transported to an area hospital where she died.

The autopsy on the baby revealed she was the victim of sexual assault, sustaining anal rectal trauma and blunt force trauma to the head, which ultimately killed the baby.

“The Coroner’s Office’s ruling that this 10-month-old baby’s death was homicide confirms what our investigation showed: Zara died a deeply disturbing death at the hands of her father. Stevens will have to answer to murder charges,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

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An investigation found that Stevens and his daughter were the only people at the residence at the time of death. Officials also found he held conversations with two women over social media and text messages not relating to the baby’s condition during this time.

Stevens is facing first-degree murder, rape of a child, aggravated assault, and other related charges.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m.


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