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Trial for man accused in death of Sumter mom, 5-year-old Nevaeh Adams begins

Daunte Johnson is accused of killing Sharee Bradley and her daughter Nevaeh Adams, 5, before putting the child's body in a dumpster.

SUMTER, S.C. — The trial for a man accused of killing a Sumter woman and her five-year-old child began this week. 

It was August of 2019 when police say Daunte Johnson killed Sharee Bradley, a former girlfriend, and her child Nevaeh Adams at Bradley's Sumter home, the Lantana Apartments.

During opening statements, Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest "Chip" Finney began laying out the state's case against Johnson saying he was armed with a "large folding knife" and insulted Bradley hours before her death.

RELATED: Body of missing Sumter 5-year-old Nevaeh Adams found in landfill

Finney also alleges that Johnson attempted to clean the scene before being brought into custody near her apartment.

Attorney Elizabeth Neyle with the Public Defenders Office is representing Johnson.  In her opening statements, she said Johnson is an innocent man and the state will not be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecution first called Renee Bell James, the manager at Lantana Apartments when Bradley was a tenant. James testified that she received complaints to her office about Johnson and Bradley arguing. 

RELATED: Life after Nevaeh: Father of slain 5-year-old begins recovering after tragic loss

The night of Bradley's death, James says Bradley's son, who was 12 at the time, came to her after finding his mother unresponsive in their home.

Shortly upon arrival, James would call 9-1-1. The dispatch recording was played for the jury. In the tape, James said her nerves were torn up, as she looked over Bradley's body. She told the operator she didn't believe Bradley was breathing and asked someone to come assist.

Bradley's son was next to take the stand. He said he woke up and walked downstairs to find his mother wrapped in a rug and bloody.

His testimony was mirrored, in part, by Sumter Police Detective James Kearney who responded to the scene after Bradley's death. He described blood stained walls, furniture and floors. He also showed images of what prosecutors say was Bradley's body with a mop bucket nearby. Inside the bucket, images showed the mop sitting in a red-watery pool.

RELATED: 'Give him his sentence,' Family of Nevaeh Adams hoping for closure as trial date remains unclear

According to Detective Kearney, the living room floor surrounding Bradley's body showed what appeared to be the swirling marks of a mop.

Police say Johnson was at a home on nearby Suzie Rembert Street when he was taken into custody.

Michael "Uncle Mike" James testified he had been staying with loved ones at the Suzie Rembert home when Johnson, who he says stayed with them on occasion, asked for a knife. The knife was described by another young man who lived there as a large collectors-type item.

The trial resumes Wednesday morning and is expected to go throughout the week.

According to Solicitor Finney, the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty, by request of the family.

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