Mother of infant emotional in court as father pleas guilty to murder
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - An Onslow County man accused of murdering his infant daughter in 2018 is headed to prison.
The infant died on January 3, 2018. She was found not breathing by deputies at Zachary 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.
Zachary Littell went before Judge Charles Henry for a plea hearing at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday.
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.
Abigail Neiger-Bickham, former wife of Zachary and mother of Harper Littell, became emotional in court as she spoke on the way the events have affected her son, who is now an only child after losing his younger sister.
“My son in my eyes was overlooked so much. At seven years old I had to explain to him where his sisters went.”
Harper was not Littell’s only young daughter to die.
Records show Littell and 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.
Caroline Wahoff, the child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor for Onslow County, gave a statement after the trial.
“We have families that their first emotion might be anger. You know us as prosecutors, we play such a small role in these families’ grieving processes and their healing process. Because no matter what we get in there —you know, if we get life without parole or if we get 18 years as we did in this case —we can’t bring Harper back.”
The district attorney’s office requested a no-contact clause between Bickham and her family and Littell.
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