SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - The case against a man charged in the murders of Sumter mother Sharee Bradley and her 5-year-old daughter, Nevaeh Adams, will move forward.
A judge found probable cause on all four counts against Daunte Johnson at a preliminary hearing Thursday morning. He has been bound over for trial. Johnson faces two counts of murder, possession of a stolen vehicle, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
At Thursday’s preliminary hearing, Sumter Police told the judge Johnson confessed to killing both Bradley and Adams at their home at the Lantana Apartments in August. Bradley’s oldest son found his mother unresponsive inside the apartment, rolled up in a rug, according to investigators. He then went to the apartment manager, who called 911.
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Police told the judge the 911 call came in at 6:12 p.m. and police arrived at 6:15 p.m. Two minutes later, they testified officers saw Johnson running away from the apartment complex and later caught up with him on a nearby street, where he was taken into custody.
Investigators began interviewing Johnson around 7:10 p.m., according to police. The interview ended around 10:45 that night after Johnson told police he “was done talking.”
He requested to speak with police two additional times after the initial interview in the days immediately following the homicides, police testified. Detectives from St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in Missouri also interviewed Johnson, as he’s charged with driving a vehicle they said belonged to a homicide victim in St. Louis. Johnson confessed to driving the stolen car from St. Louis to Sumter, according to police.
According to warrants against Johnson, he’s accused of using a long folding knife to kill both Bradley and Adams. The Sumter County Coroner said Bradley suffered wounds to her face and neck. Police told the judge at this point in the investigation, they have not found Adams’ blood on the knife. However, police said blood belonging to both Bradley and Adams was found on the first floor of the apartment. A droplet of blood was also found outside belonging to Adams, corroborating Johnson’s story, according to police.
“When I saw the defendant today, I just looked at him,” said Dupray Adams, Nevaeh’s father. “That’s about it. There isn’t much I can do or say. I just looked at him.”
Elijah Nelson, Bradley’s father and grandfather to Adams had to be escorted out of the courtroom after suffering shortness of breath.
“I felt myself getting very short of air. I felt myself getting very angry. I felt myself blowing up. I felt like I was, I don’t know, turning into Superman,” said Nelson.
Adams said he is slowly adjusting to life without his daughter but struggles when trying to do everyday tasks as his daughter weighs heavily on his mind.
“We won’t stop until we got something, whether she’s gone or alive, we will not stop until something is presented before me,” he said.
Johnson’s attorney, Chief County Public Defender Timothy Murphy, said despite the high-profile nature of the case, Johnson is presumed innocent.
“it’s important to emphasize that presumption of innocence is a hallmark of our system and he remains innocent,” said Murphy.
Johnson entered the courtroom emotionless, often putting his head down during the hearing, occasionally looking in the direction of Bradley’s and Adams’ family. Nelson said he wants the opportunity to sit down with Johnson, as he does not believe a man he once welcomed in his home is capable of killing his daughter and granddaughter.
“I don’t believe he would do that. I believe he would come clean and he would tell me exactly where our granddaughter is or make a call and get our granddaughter back to us,” said Nelson.
Johnson will appear again for an additional bond hearing before his case is heard by a grand jury. Sumter Police continue to search for Adams’ body.
While Bradley’s body was discovered in her apartment by a family member, Adams’ body has still not been found.
Prosecutors said in court Thursday that police found blood from both victims on the first floor of the apartment, and a droplet from Nevaeh outside.