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State: Stepmom condoned girl's deadly abuse

Husband convicted Wednesday on first-degree murder charge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville mom accused of killing her stepdaughter not only ignored the 4-year-old's abuse but assisted it and condoned it, the state contended Thursday as the woman's murder trial began.

Police say Shavonn Norfleet and her husband, John Norfleet, beat to death his 4-year-old daughter, Jada, with a piece of wood last year.

John Norfleet was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse.

It took the jury only 20 minutes to convict him.

Shavonn Norfleet  faces the same charges.

Shavonn Norfleet's jury heard from several witnesses Thursday and listened to an interview Shavonn gave to detectives the night Jada died.

The first witness to testify was the first paramedic who arrived at the Norfleets' house the day Jada died.

He described seeing the 4-year-old's body covered in bruises and said it caught his eye that Shavonn Norfleet was unexpectedly calm, given the situation.

Next, the state asked the first police officer on the scene about his conversation with Norfleet.

He testified that she told them that Jada was being punished by her father for not eating.

During her interview, which was recorded and played for the jury, she said that she and her husband used the rod, and that she knows it’s hard for people to understand, but “that’s the Bible.”

The defense countered during cross-examination, saying Shavonn Norfleet also told the officer that she was downstairs and didn't see anything.

Jada's older sister, who was in the home when the fatal beating took place, also testified.

"When did you realize that your sister was in trouble?" the prosecutor asked.

"When I heard her cry and my dad bring up the rod," she said.

The prosecutor then produced "Exhibit 47" and asked if the girl recognized it.

"It was a stick that Jada and I would get whipped with," she said.

The state questioned another witness through Facetime, one of the Shavonn Norfleet's friends, who said she called him the day Jada died, saying they had an emergency and they needed him to pray.

He said at that point, Shavonn Norfleet hadn’t called 911.

The state played a recording of the call she eventually made to 911 and one of the interview she gave to police hours after her stepdaughter’s death.

In that video, she said that she did not see her husband disciplining Jada that night, but the state wants to prove that she assisted with and condoned the beating, which led to the girl's death.

A crime scene technician also showed the jury pictures he took of the boards used to beat Jada and a picture of a tooth in the bathroom.

The state also called several doctors, one of whom said if the child had received care sooner, he believes that she would still be alive.

The prosecution rested Thursday afternoon, and a defense motion for direct acquittal was denied. The trial resumes at 10 a.m. Friday.

In a letter given to the judge, John Norfleet said his wife had nothing to do with the child's death.      and asked that charges against her be dropped.

"I am writing this letter to request that my wife, Shavonn Norfleet, be exonerated from this case and released immediately," John Norfleet wrote. "She has never committed child abuse, nor any other crime against our daughters. Furthermore, Shavonn was not present, nor did she partake in or condone…"