Prosecutors rest case in Sumter trial of man charged with murder in deaths of former girlfriend, her 5-year-old daughter

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Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 10:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Prosecutors rested their case Thursday in the jury trial of Daunte Johnson, a Sumter man charged with murder in the deaths of a former girlfriend and her five-year-old daughter.

Johnson faces two murder charges, and charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

RELATED STORY | Sumter mother found dead, 5-year-old daughter missing

He was arrested in August 2019 shortly after his ex-girlfriend Sharee Bradley’s body was found in her home at Lantana Apartments in Sumter by her son.

Then a frantic search began to find Bradley’s 5-year-old daughter, Neveah Adams. Five weeks later, in collaboration with 48 state and public agencies, her remains were found in a landfill in Richland County.

Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney called Laura Hash, a forensic scientist with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, to the stand Thursday.

She testified that there’s a high probability that the sample from the mop handle at the murder scene can be tied back to Johnson.

Prosecution also questioned Paul Meeh, a forensic DNA analyst with SLED, about other items from the scene that they believe indicate that murders took place there.

In one exchange, Meeh said he had great confidence that one swab from the exterior back door frame matched with Adams’ DNA.

“Whose blood was it, in your opinion?” Finney asked.

“An offspring of Sharee Bradley and Dupray Adams, and the only offspring I knew of was Neveah Adams,” Meeh said.

Dr. Nicholas Batalis, a forensic pathologist with MUSC, conducted an autopsy on Bradley and determined that she had been stabbed at least 14 times, including on the arms, the face and in the back of the neck.

At the time of the murders, Sumter police said that within hours, Johnson confessed to killing both Adams and Bradley. Investigators claim he also confessed to using a large folding knife in both killings.

RELATED STORY | Warrants: Sumter double-murder suspect used large folding knife to kill mother, missing daughter

When asked by the prosecution whether the wounds Bradley sustained could have been caused by a knife like that, Batalis said it was possible.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Neyle pushed back, asking Batalis if he could say definitively that knife killed Bradley.

“I can say that the injuries are consistent with that knife, but I cannot say definitively that that was the knife that caused it,” Batalis said.

The trial will resume Friday morning. Johnson was not present in the courtroom Thursday afternoon, but Judge R. Ferrell Cothran Jr. told defense he’s advising that Johnson be present on Friday in the event there is a verdict in this case. The trial resumed on Friday morning.

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