Wilmington woman pleads guilty to poisoning 9-year-old daughter

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Jennie Lynn Marvel
Jeannie Lynn Marvel

A Wilmington woman was sentenced to nine to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of her 9-year-old daughter.

Jeannie Lynn Marvel, 51, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and animal cruelty in New Hanover County Superior Court on Wednesday, according to Ebony Williams, assistant to District Attorney Ben David.

Marvel was arrested on the charges in September 2012, when sheriff’s deputies and emergency personnel responded to her home on Scratch Court after receiving a 911 call about an unresponsive woman in the home. A family friend was unable to get in touch with Marvel at the time, and went to the home to check on her.

Related story: Mother accused of attempted murder makes first court appearance 

“When she arrived, she found the little girl clearly under the influence of some toxic or impairing substance and the defendant on the floor unresponsive,” Williams said. “The family cat was curled up on the floor in distress and impaired. The mother, Marvel, had fed her daughter and cat a smoothie that was laced with toxic substances.”

Police seized rodent poison and several medications from Marvel’s home. The child tested positive for benzodiazepines while she was being treated at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

“During the execution of a search warrant, detectives also located three letters left by Marvel written to her mother, and other family members and friends,” Williams said. “Marvel indicated in these letters that she intended to take her own life, along with the child and the cat.”

According to Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan, Marvel intended to offer a diminished capacity defense if the case had gone to trial.

“It is always difficult to understand how a parent can attempt to take the life of a child,” Jordan said.

Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham sentenced Marvel to nine to 11 years, 10 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections.

Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or caroline.c@portcitydaily.com. On Twitter @cgcurran.