Parents plead not guilty in daughter's death

Documents: Biological mom physically, sexually abused Jada Norfleet, sister

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos of John and Shavonn Norfleet
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos of John and Shavonn Norfleet

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – John and Shavonn Norfleet pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of their 4-year-old daughter last month.

Police said the couple beat Jada Norfleet to death with a 1x2 piece of wood. 

Jacksonville Sheriff's office Chief Chris Butler said the child had been hit on the arms and legs in an "ongoing abusive situation for months." He said she died from blunt-force trauma.

At the time of his arrest, John Norfleet, 31, was a math teacher at Andrew Jackson High School.

News4Jax has learned that Jada had been previously abused in Michigan by her biological mother.

Nearly 100 pages of documents obtained by News4Jax show Cheryl Latrice Norfleet, John Norfleet's ex-wife, pleaded guilty to child abuse in 2011.

Most of the details are too graphic to report, but the documents show Cheryl Norfleet confessed to her then-husband that she had sexually and physically abused Jada and her sister. Other information showed she had also not fed the children. 

According to the report, the stories of abuse started in 2010 when Jada was just 8 months old. Police said John Norfleet confronted Cheryl Norfleet about why the baby had been losing weight and she admitted to periodically starving her and giving her food she couldn't digest. The report says that after further prodding Cheryl Norfleet not only admitted to sexually abusing both of the couple's daughters but also to hitting one child multiple times with a belt and the other child with a hairbrush.

As part of her plea agreement, she was sentenced to two years' probation. She also gave up custody of Jada and her sister and said she had no desire to repair her marriage. That's when John Norfleet took the girls and moved to Florida.

Department of Children and Families spokesman John Harrell said once parental rights are terminated or given up, the investigation into abuse closes.

"That's the resolution of the case," Harrell said. "For there to be a new investigation regarding the children, there would have to be new concerns raised."

The Norfleet's next pretrial hearings will be in late March.