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Father gets 18 to 22-1/2 years in death of infant daughter

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 12:14 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 2:42 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - An Onslow County man accused of murdering his infant daughter back in 2018 will be headed to prison.

Zachary Littell went before Judge Charles Henry for a plea hearing at 2:00 p.m.

Littell entered an Alford plea to second-degree murder in the death of his seven-week-old daughter, Harper.

An Alford plea is where a defendant pleads guilty without admitting to the offense.

The infant died on January 3, 2018. She was found not breathing by deputies at Littell’s home on Denise Drive outside Jacksonville.

The baby died two days later at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Deputies said the father told them his daughter fell from a portable baby bathtub, but investigators said her injuries were not consistent with a fall like that.

Prosecutors said an autopsy showed the baby died from blunt force trauma to the head.

The plea deal would have Littell serve between 18 and 22-1/2 years in state prison. Judge Henry then sentenced the man to serve that time after hearing emotional statements from the victim’s family.

Harper was not Littell’s only young daughter to die.

Records show Littell, and the baby’s mother, Abigail Neiger-Bickham, had another daughter, Ava, on November 30th, 2015. The baby’s death certificate says she died on August 4th, 2016 and an autopsy listed her cause of death as “undetermined”.

The child’s maternal grandmother said the nine-month-old died of SIDS.

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