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Judge denies bid by girl's accused killer to avoid death penalty trial

Posted January 11, 2013

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— The man accused of buying, raping and killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl in November 2009 could face the death penalty, if convicted in his trial next month, after a judge denied a defense motion Friday.

Mario Andrette McNeill, 32, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in the death of Shaniya Davis, whose body was found in a kudzu patch near the Lee-Harnett county line on Nov. 16, 2009, six days after her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, reported her missing from her Fayetteville home.

Shaniya Nicole Davis WRAL.com archive: Shaniya Davis case

McNeill's attorneys asked that the state be barred from seeking the death penalty in the case, but Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons denied the request. The basis for the motion wasn't clear.

Defense attorneys Butch Pope and Terry Alford also asked to delay the trial by 60 days to give attorneys more time to review video from four cameras at the mobile home park where Shaniya was taken. Ammons denied that as well.

Ammons said he would decide which crime scene and autopsy photos prosecutors can show to the jury after the defense asked that none be shown.

McNeill said nothing during the brief hearing – his last court appearance before jury selection begins for his trial on Feb. 18.

Authorities say Antoinette Davis was complicit in her daughter's death. Arrest warrants stated that she "did knowingly provide Shaniya with the intent that she be held in sexual servitude" and "did permit an act of prostitution with Shaniya."

Mario McNeill in court Trial in Fayetteville girl's death set to start next month

An autopsy determined that Shaniya died of asphyxiation and that injuries she suffered were consistent with a sexual assault. A medical examiner noted in the autopsy that investigators believe the girl was used 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 also had been scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 18, but prosecutors said her trial will start separately, likely in March. Prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty against her.

130 Comments

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  • bgibson3 Jan 18, 4:44 p.m.

    If you want quick justice, perhaps he should get 18 months probation, and then be released, with "time off for good behaviour."

  • chichi Jan 16, 5:30 p.m.

    Good, now maybe her mother will get the same.

  • sunshine1040 Jan 15, 11:23 a.m.

    punish severly and maybe your brothers sisters children will realize crime does not pay. This baby was not asked if she wanted to be assulted but maybe by the time he was through hurting her she wanted to be out of the pain.

  • jackflash123 Jan 14, 1:50 p.m.

    "The protection of innocents has to be put first, always and all ways. PERIOD!!!"

    I agree that's what it OUGHT to be about. When people assume, before trial, what the outcome must be or else, I think they put their own kneejerk, emotional desires ahead of that. Again, in the immediate aftermath of Shaniya's death, THIS VERY MESSAGE BOARD was calling for the death of the wrong guy, who was arrested first. People here let their emotions cloud their judgment in their posts here.

    As for putting the protection of the innocents first, one way we can do this is by not insisting every petty criminal be punished so severely he or she has no hope of forgiveness or opportunity and simply goes deeper and deeper into crime, until something like this happens. Had Mr. O'Neill's previous offenses been publicized here, no doubt numerous taxpayers would have objected to measures that might have paid for his education. Think how much better off Shaniya might be now if we'd been more sensible then.

  • IPayYouPay Jan 14, 9:23 a.m.

    Thank God!!!!! Let me smirk back at him since he got a chance to smirk at cameras when he walked into the court room. That smirk was on tv - I could have shot throught that tv and gone after him. But unlike him that's not my style. I will only smirk back.

  • Dynol Yn Cael Ei Jan 11, 7:55 p.m.

    beachboater - "I hear that child molesters and rapists don't fare to well in the general population."

    I'd like to think that, but unfortunately, there are often gangs in prisons where they band together by crime and protect one another.

    He may end up being safer than he was in his mother's arms.

  • question_why Jan 11, 7:03 p.m.

    This is a horrible story and we would all like to think there is some punishment that would make it seem like justice was obtained for the little girl but there is nothing that compares to what she must have gone thru. I'd love to hear that the story the prosecutor is presenting is wrong and the suffering wasn't as bad as it seems.

  • GRG Jan 11, 7:01 p.m.

    I saw him on the news tonight. He had a smirk on his face and looked like he didn't have a care in the world. What a POS!!!!! I hope he gets the death penalty. Any other decision would not be justice for that little girl.

  • Cock a doodle doo Jan 11, 6:36 p.m.

    What a terrible story. Terrible. What is more worse than this story is reading the comments of people who want us to be more like Iran - all of whom will probably also praise glory to their lord Sunday. *sigh*

  • beachboater Jan 11, 6:26 p.m.

    He should be happy to be tried with the death penalty. Death row inmates get private cells, no interaction with the general population. I hear that child molesters and rapists don't fare to well in the general population.

    And to top all that off, North Carolina basically doesn't have a death penalty. Well, we have one, but it is not carried out. We can't take the life of a murderer because the needle may cause him a little pain a suffering. Nothing compared to the victim, but the criminal has rights not offered to the law-abiding citizens of this state.

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