A 23-year-old woman charged with killing her mother Tuesday stabbed her in the left chest with a long-bladed kitchen knife, Pitt County sheriff's officials said.
It was just after 6 p.m. when deputies arrived at 1840 Belvoir Highway, Chief Deputy Randy Gentry said during a Wednesday news briefing. They found 44-year-old Bittina Louise McDonald lying on the kitchen floor.
Officers interviewed her daughter, Nicole Lee Chandler, at the scene and took her into custody. She was arraigned Wednesday morning on a charge of murder and was held in lieu of a $1 million bond.
Rescuers performed life-saving measures on McDonald at the home and in an ambulance as she was transported to Pitt County Memorial Hospital. She she was pronounced dead at the hospital.
McDonald rented a room at the home, Gentry said. Chandler, who lives across the street, was there with her two children, ages 7 and 3, Gentry said.
The children were present when the incident occurred and are now with their father, he said.
Chandler still was at the home when deputies arrived, Gentry said. “She was cooperative and really made no statements at the scene,” he said.
It was unclear what prompted the stabbing.
“It was an argument between a mother and a daughter,” Gentry said. “We're still investigating the details.”
An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Chandler made an early-morning appearance before Judge Charles Vincent for her arraignment at the Pitt County Detention Center. She was wearing what a jail official described as a protective “suicide smock.”
The garb was assigned to her due to the nature of the crime, sheriff's officials said.
Chandler was told she could face the death penalty if the district attorney's office pursues a first-degree murder conviction.
Vincent set the bond after learning from assistant district attorney Faris Dixon that Chandler has a history of domestic assaults, both as a perpetrator and as a victim.
She will be appointed two attorneys from the Capital Public Defender's Office before her next hearing, set for March 10, Vincent said.
“A suspect's history as a domestic-assault victim is one of many factors that the district attorney considers when deciding whether to pursue capital punishment,” Dixon said after the proceedings.
Both mother and daughter have been arrested before, court records indicate.
McDonald has faced charges such as assault with a deadly weapon resulting in serious injury, reckless driving, harassing phone calls and possession of drug paraphernalia dating back to 2003. Most charges were dismissed.
She was found guilty in 2007 of habitually impaired driving and failure to appear, and in 2009 of misuse of the 911 system.
In 2008 and 2009, her daughter was cited for a vehicle registration violation, and arrested for driving while license revoked, making a false report to a police station, harassing phone calls and various drug charges. All the charges were dismissed.