Greenville man charged with murder of 4-month-old daughter

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A Greenville man charged with an open count of murder in the death of his four-month-old daughter appeared in court Friday.

During his court appearance, Johnavan Spell, 22, was given a $1,500,000 secured bond, and his next court date is June 14.

Spell was arrested just before 11 a.m. Thursday.

Greenville police and fire/rescue responded to the 100 block of Chippendail Drive to a report of an unresponsive four-month-old girl Jamoni Spell on May 25th shortly before 8 a.m. She was transported to Vidant Medical Medical Center where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Although there were initially no obvious signs of injury on the child’s body, an autopsy performed the next day revealed significant head trauma that wasn’t visible prior to the exam.

Further investigation and interviews led to Spell’s arrest, police said.

The infant lived at home with her father, mother and several other relatives.

Greenville police said it was not the first time police went to the home.

“We had been to this home three times prior for domestic related issues but nothing related to the children themselves,” said Chief Mark Holtzman. “But we do have a history of calls to the house between the mother and the father of this child being involved in a domestic dispute.”

In 2013, Spell was charged with stabbing another J.H. Rose High School student in the neck with a 12-inch butcher knife in a crowded hallway. He reached a plea deal in 2015 for assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Greenville police said investigators are trying to determine if other children in the home were abused. The children are under the care of Department of Social Services, police said.

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