Woman Guilty Of Child Abuse Sentenced

Sara Davinger’s 3-Month-Old Daughter Died From Injuries

A Navy woman whose actions allowed her husband to continually injure her 3-month-old daughter, resulting in the child's death, was sentenced Tuesday to six years in state prison.

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Sara Davinger, 23, pleaded guilty to felony child abuse in the 2009 death of her infant daughter, Aziya.

In denying probation for the defendant, Judge David Danielsen said the child's injuries – which included broken ribs and a broken arm – would have been apparent "to anyone who cared."

"It is just unthinkable that this child's life was not saved," the judge said, noting the victim was "peculiarly vulnerable."

Danielsen said the defendant's actions, in part, resulted in the child being killed by her Navy husband, Steven, who was not the baby's biological father.

Deputy District Attorney Per Hellstrom said Steven Davinger called the child names and urged his wife to "shut that (expletive) up."

Sara Davinger was aware that her husband was abusing her daughter – sometimes in a back bedroom – but did nothing to stop it, the prosecutor said.

Hellstrom said the baby suffered more than 40 fractures over a several-week period from September to mid-October 2009. The infant got a bacterial infection and died on Oct. 13, 2009, while Sara and Steven Davinger were at work.

"She (Sara) knew her husband was abusing her child, and she knew it for a few weeks," the prosecutor told the judge. "She chose to do nothing. She abandoned her duty as a parent."

Hellstrom said Sara Davinger felt like Aziya was getting in the way of her relationship with her husband and stopped caring for her child, letting him take care of the baby.

"She chose herself over her baby," Hellstrom said. "She chose Steven Davinger over her daughter."

But Deputy Public Defender Damian Lowe said Sara Davinger was a passive and submissive woman who "didn't know the extent of Aziya's injuries."

Lowe said his client "knew enough" about what was going on, but didn't take action.

"She will live with that guilt for the rest of her life," her attorney said.

Lowe said Sara Davinger knew that her husband was "violent, mean and rough," but didn't actually witness the abuse of her child.

"She didn't know just how bad it was," the defense attorney said.

Steven Davinger, 29, pleaded guilty last October to four counts of felony child abuse and was sentenced earlier this year to 21 years in state prison.

The couple's babysitter, Thomas Stevenson, pleaded guilty to child abuse and was sentenced to a two-year prison term.

The Davingers were arrested in March 2011 at the 32nd Street Naval Station. They had been under investigation since Oct. 13, 2009, when Stevenson called 911 to report that he had found the child dead in the Serra Mesa home he shared with the Davingers. The infant was cold and stiff when paramedics arrived.

Steven Davinger told officers that a large abrasion on the baby's face was caused by her rubbing her face on the carpet, but authorities found that not to be credible because of her age and lack of mobility.

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