Local News

Man rejects plea, maintains innocence in Fayetteville girl's death

Posted April 9, 2013
Updated April 22, 2013

— A man accused of raping and killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl in 2009 rejected a plea deal Tuesday and said he wants to proceed with a trial, which could send him to death row if convicted. 

Prosecutors said Monday that they wouldn't seek the death penalty against Mario Andrette McNeill, 32, if he pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Shaniya Davis.

"He maintains his innocence and respectfully declines the plea offer," public defender Harold "Butch" Pope told Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons on Tuesday morning.

Shaniya Nicole Davis WRAL.com archive: Shaniya Davis case

Jury selection then resumed, and Ammons excused three of the 97 prospective jurors. One woman is a volunteer for the Fayetteville Police Department who helped search for Shaniya, while the others cited personal hardships that preclude them from sitting on a jury for what could be a two-month trial.

Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, showed little emotion when he heard the case was proceeding to trial. Later, he said, "It's up to God. I'll let the justice system do its work."

The girl's body was found in a kudzu patch off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett county line on Nov. 16, 2009, six days after her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, reported her missing from their mobile home on Sleepy Hollow Drive in Fayetteville.

McNeill, who was seen with Shaniya on a Sanford hotel security camera hours after her disappearance, later surrendered to police after investigators contacted his family.

He said Monday that he wouldn't dispute that he left the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park with Shaniya and that he took her to the hotel in Sanford and later left with her. He has repeatedly denied killing her.

Mario McNeill in court Accused child killer wants to take his chances with jury

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.

Authorities say Antoinette Davis was complicit in her daughter's death. Arrest warrants state 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."

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 after McNeill's case is over, and prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty against her.


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  • elkerster Apr 15, 2013

    Shortcake53- I have to disagree. While yes I THINK he did it I would never say my opinions is equal to a jury. A jury sees and hears a lot more avidence then the general public every does. We have basing out opinions on how the stories are spun not the evidence presented at trail. Big difference.

  • censorbait Apr 10, 2013

    If he can get Fox, Hudson or Weeks as judge he may get probation. I hope he draws a hanging judge for that is what he deserves. Animal and nothing more.

  • shortcake53 Apr 10, 2013

    Luv2camp, the trial will be decided by folks just like us, so our opinions are just as valid. And I cannot for the life of me understand how ANYONE could see him with this baby girl and then say, "We dont know he did it". I cant see air, but I know its there................

  • FragmentFour Apr 9, 2013

    Davis and Pope may be pinning their case on "help" Davis gave law enforcement officials earlier in the case.

    But... it seems like a suicidal thing to have done with this plea deal.

  • airbornemonty Apr 9, 2013

    I can not believe that McNeill gave himself the death penalty. But of course it will depend on how well he is prosecuted by those getting paid to protect us poor innocent peasants.

  • mfarmer1 Apr 9, 2013

    My mind is made up.

  • Luv2Camp Apr 9, 2013

    There is a reason why we have a court system in this country. Let the trial figure out his guilt or innocence. All those that are offering opinions on this forum are guilty of trying the man in the court of public opinion. Let's hear the facts.

  • LivingfortheCity Apr 9, 2013

    Wow! let me say this...if the DA had a slam dunk case...he would have nver offered a plea....

  • pingmanreturns Apr 9, 2013

    What his defense team is counting on is selecting a jury that is predominantly black. They will take their chances that they will not convict him of first degree murder. I have served on two murder trials and I speak from experience.

  • ellengraham5660 Apr 9, 2013

    It's gonna be hard to find ANY jury in this state who isn't already biased towards this foolish evil man. Good luck, dude!