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Truck driver faces murder charge in hit-and-run that killed girl

Posted September 18, 2013

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— A truck driver from Roseboro accused of passing a stopped school bus in April and killing a 7-year-old girl is now facing a second-degree murder charge, according to court records.

According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Johnny Allen Spell was driving a logging truck on April 23 when he hit Alyiah McKenzie Morgan at the bus stop near her Harrells home and kept driving.

Morgan, a first-grader at Union Elementary School in Clinton, died on her way to a local hospital. Spell, 38, was arrested several hours later and charged with driving while impaired while operating a commercial motor vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and felony hit and run.

His charges have been upgraded to include second-degree murder, driving without an operator's license and passing a stopped school bus. 

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  • albegadeep Sep 19, 2013

    Good work, dcatz. Using that, I found the statute in question:

    NC General Statute 14-17b1: "The malice necessary to prove second degree murder is based on an inherently dangerous act or omission, done in such a reckless and wanton manner as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty and deliberately bent on mischief."

  • dcatz Sep 19, 2013

    "But a murder charge doesn't seem to make sense - murder is the intentional killing of someone, as opposed to involuntary manslaughter, where you did something stupid and caused an accident."

    Murder is the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought.

    Malice aforethought can be satisfied in one of four ways :

    1.Intent to kill
    2.Intent to inflict serious bodily injury
    3.Felony murder. This is where a death that occurs during the commission of a (usually violent) felony is considered murder regardless of intent (e.g. committing arson that kills someone in a building you thought was empty).
    4.Depraved heart murder. This is basically an extreme form of negligent homicide (which is normally manslaughter) in which the person engaged in actions that showed a reckless or depraved indifference to human life above and beyond simple negligence (e.g. throwing boulders off an overpass towards oncoming cars; firing a loaded gun into a crowd for the purpose of scaring them).

  • albegadeep Sep 19, 2013

    His behavior was unacceptable, and jail time is well warranted. DUI, no license, passing stopped bus, hit and run...

    But a murder charge doesn't seem to make sense - murder is the intentional killing of someone, as opposed to involuntary manslaughter, where you did something stupid and caused an accident.

  • itsmyownopinion Sep 19, 2013

    Why did it take so long?

  • Inside The Beltline Sep 18, 2013

    This story just made me sick when it first happened. This man should be in prison for the rest of his life. My heart goes out to this little girl's family.

  • friskymonkey2 Sep 18, 2013

    He needed to. Being a professional driver for 22 years gives me the common sense that this behavior is not tolerated by society or the DOT. I hope they throw the book at him for ending this precious life.