Greenville, SC – An accused drug dealer left his one-year-old daughter to burn to death in his vehicle, after the car burst into flames during a pursuit on Friday night.
The incident began at approximately 10:20 p.m., when a South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) trooper tried to stop a speeding vehicle on Highway 14, WHNS reported.
The vehicle had been traveling 67 miles per hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone, SCHP Captain Kelley Hughes said, according to The State.
The driver, later identified as 26-year-old Imhotep Osiris Norman, refused to pull over, and led officers on a chase onto Interstate 85.
During the pursuit, the trooper noticed sparks and smoke coming from the vehicle’s undercarriage.
As Norman approached mile marker 58, he tossed a “large bag” out the window of his vehicle, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.
That’s when the car started to catch fire, according to WHNS.
Within minutes, the vehicle was completely engulfed by the flames, and Norman slowed down to about 30 miles per hour.
He barreled out of the inferno as the vehicle rolled to a stop, then took off on foot.
After first responders extinguished the flames, they discovered the scorched body of Norman’s one-year-old daughter, Xena Rah’Lah Norman, in the backseat.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents and a K9 team managed to track Norman down, and he was placed under arrest, The State reported.
Investigators also recovered the bag he tossed during the pursuit, and discovered it was filled with illegal drugs.
Norman has been charged with homicide by child abuse, failing to stop for a blue light resulting in death, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute amphetamine, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, WHNS reported.
He had multiple active warrants stemming from earlier felony drug offenses at the time of the chase, The Greenville News reported.
According to Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office records, Norman was arrested in November of 2018 after deputies located marijuana, cocaine, rifles, pistols, cash, digital scales, and other items related to drug sales during a search warrant.
He was taken to jail on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute (dealing) marijuana, but was released on bond a day later.
He didn’t bother to show up for court, resulting in the warrant for his arrest.
During his initial appearance on Saturday afternoon, Norman claimed that he was unable to get the car to stop during the chase, and denied that it was on fire when he ran away and left his toddler inside, WHNS reported.
“I just know that the car wasn’t on fire when I got out the car,” he told the judge. “I would have stayed in that car with my daughter. I would have never got out the car while the car was on fire.”
“I seen sparks coming from under the tires when I tried to stop and I couldn’t stop at that point,” Norman claimed. “I don’t know why what happened to the car where I couldn’t stop.”
He was ordered to be held without bond.
Xena’s maternal grandmother, Linda Glenn, described her as a “little angel” who “was just a loving little doll,” The Greenville News reported.
Glenn said that the family is devastated by the loss of the innocent little girl, but that Norman simply made a mistake.
“He loved her,” she told the news outlet. “It’s like we lost two. He really just made a bad choice. He made a bad choice but he loved that baby.”
Xena’s entire family seemed to be backing Norman.
“We believe him, 100 percent, both sides of the family believe what he’s saying,” the little girl’s great aunt, Renalla Clowney, told WSPA. “If he woulda knew, he wouldn’t of got out of the car.”