Local News

Fayetteville man guilty of killing Shaniya Davis, not of raping her

Posted May 23, 2013

Mario Andrette McNeill sits in a Cumberland County courtroom on May 15, 2013, during his capital murder trial. He is accused of raping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis in November 2009.

— A jury on Thursday convicted a Fayetteville man of kidnapping and killing a 5-year-old girl more than three years ago, but he was acquitted of raping her.

The eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for about 7½ hours over two days before finding Mario Andrette McNeill, 33, guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual offense of a child, indecent liberties with a child, human trafficking and sexual servitude in the death of Shaniya Davis.

McNeill showed no emotion as the verdicts were read in the quiet courtroom.

Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, said sitting through the trial has been difficult – and it's not over.

"I've had to relive this whole thing again, and we've still got several more months of court proceedings to relive this," Lockhart said. "Then, I've got the rest of my life to kind of always look back on it. So, it's something that we'll never get over. It's something we've got to learn to deal with."

McNeill's family has declined to speak with the media during the trial.

Jurors will return next Tuesday to hear evidence before deciding whether McNeill should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

Shaniya's body was found on Nov. 16, 2009, in a kudzu patch off N.C. Highway 87 on the Lee-Harnett county line, six days after her mother reported her missing from their Fayetteville mobile home.

An autopsy determined that she had been suffocated, and she had injuries "consistent with a sexual assault" shortly before she died, according to a medical examiner.

Bradley Lockhart Father of Shaniya Davis pleased with verdict

Prosecutors presented 12 days of testimony from 44 witnesses, tying McNeill to Shaniya through a security video at a Sanford hotel, hair from a hotel comforter and a blanket found in a trash can outside the girl's home, and soil from the gas pedal of his car, which a geologist said likely came from the site where Shaniya's body was found.

McNeill's original defense attorney also provided Fayetteville police with information that led to the discovery of Shaniya's body.

McNeill presented no evidence in his defense, and his attorneys argued that prosecutors couldn't prove where Shaniya was assaulted or when she died.

His DNA wasn't found on the girl, and he has maintained that he took her to the Sanford hotel at the request of her aunt and later handed her off to someone he thought was related to her.

Investigators say Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, sold her daughter to McNeill to pay off a drug debt. Antoinette Davis is charged with first-degree murder, indecent liberties with a child, felony child abuse, felony sexual servitude, rape of a child, sexual offense of a child by an adult offender, human trafficking and making a false police report.

She will be tried later this year, but prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty against her.

McNeill has maintained since his arrest that he didn't kill Shaniya. He even rejected a plea deal last month before his trial started that would have kept him off death row. That decision now lies with the jury.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • hlrickey May 29, 2013

    678devilish: The father left her there because the new stepmommy didn't want some other woman's child, especially a mixed race one, messing up her pristine suburban image. Don't forget this child was burned with cigarettes long before the night of her murder. She'd been living a nightmare for a while. Daddy couldn't care less. He was just happy to be on Oprah and have his 15 minutes of fame, and bask in the "you poor man" condolences.

  • hlrickey May 29, 2013

    He raped her, too. The hotel staff said they found a baggie with white powder residue after he checked out. Coke or heroin or meth - they can all in their own individual way cause the user to be more aroused but also more incapable of finishing the deed. It's possible he was even more frustrated and angry when after 45 minutes of trying he couldn't "achieve" what he wanted. And children are routinely raped with digits and objects, as well. No DNA really means nothing in this case. At least his new friends behind bars will understand that.

  • 678devilish May 24, 2013

    I just be he wish now he took that plea deal for what ever it was. Also he wished he could have given up the unknown name. Now he faces his dire consequences. Whatever he receives, he will have plenty of time to think about it.

  • 678devilish May 24, 2013

    Why did the father of this child leave her in those circumstances? He should have known better. Oh, I get it, he had something to do and drop her off not caring about the danger that was lurking there. Shame on him!

  • 678devilish May 24, 2013

    Instead of death,I firmly believe they should give this young man life in prison without parole.

  • change2012 May 24, 2013

    @awood2 because it takes 72 hours for DNA to be found on the body. This little girls body was found five days later so therefore any evidence of DNA would not have been found after that time frame.

  • awood2 May 24, 2013

    how can you be convicted on everything but rape?

  • 75Tarheel May 24, 2013

    They should think about taking a closer look at the Fayetteville police dept. start from the top. It is too much crime going on in Fayetteville that is being overlooked.Fire the whole squad and recruit a new force.A cesspool and thats sad.


    Are you serious? How in the world did you make that leap? YOU know absolutely nothing about conducting a criminal investigation much less the intricacies of a murder investigation, crime scene investigation, interview and interrogation techniques or anything else law enforcement related. Watching CSI doesn't count.

    The FPD, the Harnett Co. SO, the Lee County SO, the Cumberland Co. SO and SBI put together a superb case based upon the best evidence available and gathered through pain staking effort. Great job by these agencies and any others I neglected to mention.

    The quote of the day for many posters here is: "It's better to keep ones mouth shut and let people 'thin' you're a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

  • ratgitter88 May 24, 2013

    so is it that the Mother is charged with 'rape of a child' but not the man that killed her..........?

  • 75Tarheel May 24, 2013

    He should not have been found guilty of kidnapping since the mother gave her to him as payment.

    Click to view my profile momeeee

    And I have some beach front property in Arizona. He IS guilty of kidnapping. Kidnapping not only includes moving someone from one place to another but also holding that someone against his/her will.

    And BTW your statement implies that you actually believe this murderer's story. How short sighted and naïve.