17-year-old to go to trial for J.H. Rose stabbing - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

17-year-old to go to trial for J.H. Rose stabbing

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Johnavan Spell Johnavan Spell

A 17-year-old will go to trial on charges he stabbed a fellow student at J.H. Rose High School.
A grand jury indicted Johnavan Spell Monday on several charges, including attempted first-degree murder.
Police say Spell used a 12-inch butcher knife to stab a classmate in the neck in the hallway at school.
Investigators say the attack was retaliation and gang-related.

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The stabbing at J.H. Rose High School was all caught on tape.

At a bond hearing Thursday, the Pitt County District Attorney revealed she has seen surveillance video that shows 17-year-old Johnavan Spell stab his classmate, Daekwon Daniels.

Robb showed the video on a laptop to the judge and Spell's defense attorneys in court. But she says it is considered evidence in the case and is not available to the media right now.

However, Robb described what happens in the video for 9 On Your Side. She said Spell came to school with a knife and hid it beneath his jacket. She says he wandered the halls to find his target, then put on black gloves before lunging at Daniels with a 12-inch butcher knife. She says he then threw the knife in a school trash can, where police later found it.

Spell is charged with attempted first degree murder, but told a judge at his first court appearance on Wednesday he was not trying to kill Daniels.

Robb thinks otherwise, and says Spell could have severed Daniels' spinal cord or worse, killed him.

The judge lowered Spell's bond to $175,000 with house arrest. But at last check, he was still in jail. He is scheduled to go before a grand jury on Feb. 25.

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The high school student charged with trying to kill his classmate with a foot-long butcher knife got his bond reduced.
9 On Your Side was in the courtroom.
Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb dropped Johnavan Spell's half-million-dollar bond to $175,000 with house arrest.
Police say Spell's attack in the hallway of J.H. Rose High School Monday is gang-related retaliation.
In an exclusive interview with Spell's mother she told 9 On Your Side her son's a good boy, who's just confused.

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The mother of a teenager charged with attempted first degree murder speaks out for the first time.

This morning at the Pitt County Detention Center, 9 On Your Side talked with the mother of Johnavan Spell, the J.H. Rose student accused of stabbing another student in the neck with a knife at school on Monday.

Andrea Spell described him as her "best child" and a "loner" who plays the drums in church every Sunday. She says he's a "good boy" who has "never hurt anybody."

"My son is not a fighter," she said. "He's not a thief. He's never been in trouble in his life."

Johnavan had his first hearing at the detention center court room Wednesday morning. Judge Gwyn Hilburn presided.

Judge Hilburn listed off Johnavan's charges, including attempted first degree murder, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a weapon on education property and violation of electronic monitoring.

Johnavan then asked Judge Hilburn if he could speak. He said he believed assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and attempted first degree murder were such similar charges, he wanted to know why he couldn't be released from jail on electronic monitoring again. 

"It wasn't my intent to kill him," he added before Judge Hilburn asked him to refrain from talking about the case until his next hearing. 

"It hurts," his mom said. "He's confused. You can tell when somebody's never been locked up before. He's confused. He don't know what to say, what to ask."

Johnavan's mother says she plans to hire an attorney to represent her son.

Johnavan remains in jail under a $500,000 bond. A hearing for him is scheduled for Thursday morning with Judge David Leech. His court date is set for Feb. 28.

9 On Your Side also talked with victim Daekwon Daniels' mother off-camera today. She told us, "This is a horrible situation for both families."

She added that her son is doing okay now and says, "I'm not mad, I just feel blessed he's alive." 

Both mothers deny their sons' involvement in any type of gang-related activity.

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A high school student is now facing upgraded charges of attempted first degree murder.

Police say 17-year-old Johnavon Spell attacked another student with a 12-inch butcher knife to the neck in a crowded hallway. It all happened Monday morning at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville.

Police believe it was gang-related retaliation after the two teens had a fight over the weekend.

The arrest warrant names the victim as Daekwon Daniels, who Principal Charlie Langley says was released from the hospital and is expected to be okay. 

Spell posted a $25,000 bond Monday afternoon for lesser charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. But he is now back in jail under a $500,000 bond.
His first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

--- Previous Story ---

A 12-inch butcher knife, that's what police say a teenager used to stab a fellow student in the neck in a crowded school hallway.

Police say the motive was gang-related retaliation.

Police say they cannot confirm whether the victim, Daekwon Daniels, or Johnavan Spell, the teen police say stabbed Daniels, are validated gang members. They just suspect the teens might have been affiliating people who are gang members.

And while the threat of your child getting involved with a gang might seem far-fetched, there are 18 known gangs in Pitt County alone, with about 150 validated members and 650 gangs state-wide.

Sgt. Joe Friday of the Greenville Police Department says gangs must continually recruit to survive.

"You do see more and more people because older people either go to jail, they die, it's a short-lived experience," said Friday. "In order for the organization to exist, they have to bring in new people, it's basically like a pyramid scheme."

Friday says peer pressure, failing grades, and tough financial situations are just a few factors that can put your kids at risk.

"Young people who join gangs are looking for acceptance, are looking to be loved, looking for a family," Friday says.

9 On Your Side asked him if it's the responsibility of the parents to know where their children are at all times.

"I think a good bit of it depends on the family structure and the parents," Friday responded. "The government, the police departments, and all these programs, they can't raise children for or replace a family."

So, what should you be doing to protect your children?

Juvenile Court Counselor Supervisor Brian Stewart says positive activities and good role models are key.

"You hope that's going to kind of off-set the negative behaviors and the negative folks out there that are influencing the young people to make poor choices," Stewart says.

Adds Friday, "When it comes down to choices, they've got to make the right decisions. We can support them, we can do things to try to help them, but the choice is still theirs."

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Police say the stabbing went down Monday in a hallway full of students, right in front of school resource officers.

They believe Spell was retaliating after a fight with another student over the weekend that was gang-related.      
School resource officers were just feet away from the teenager and were able to restrain him immediately. And while police would not give us the victim's name, they told 9 On Your Side he went to the hospital and has since been released.
School leaders say it's an isolated incident and no other students were harmed. But 9 On Your Side talked with one senior who said it was unsettling.

"It's scary to know that if you have a disagreement or argue with someone in school, that it could go as far as to be physically stabbed," said William Underwood, a J.H. Rose senior. "It's just scary. It's scary to think about."

The school never went on lock-down and administrators say there was no disruption to the rest of the school day.

9 On Your Side asked Principal Charlie Langley if he thinks he is doing enough to keep your children safe.

"We do all we can do with the resources we have," he says. "Our big mantra is if you see something, say something. So kids are our best information for any kind of problems. But this happened so quickly this morning, there was no chance to prevent it in any way, shape or form. Our biggest fear is things coming from the neighborhood. This kind of stuff doesn't happen on school property very often."

Langley says he does not believe metal detectors would be effective at preventing incidents like this in the future.

"It's not a functional thing," he says. "It limits what you can do in schools. You've got 1500 kids they'd have to come and go through one door. It would be very restraining on what we do. I don't know if it would make them any safer and I don't know that it would make them feel any safer."

Spell posted a $25,000 bond on Monday afternoon.

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