Local News

Mystery defense motion delays Fayetteville death penalty trial

Posted April 19, 2013
Updated April 22, 2013

— Opening statements in the capital murder trial of a man accused of raping and killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl have been postponed until Monday afternoon as the judge deals with a final pre-trial issue.

Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons closed his Cumberland County courtroom to the public on Friday morning to address a defense motion.

"A matter has come to my attention that requires me, in the interest of justice, with no other available means to me, to require that this court now be closed to everyone except the parties that are involved," Ammons said.

After less than 15 minutes, he reopened the courtroom and said he would handle the issue Monday morning and that the public would be allowed in at that time.

The hearing was supposed to be over a defense motion to suppress a statement made by Mario Andrette McNeill regarding the location of Shaniya Davis' body, but the court administrator said Ammons closed the courtroom to discuss a legal issue about attorney-client privilege.

McNeill, 32, is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in Shaniya's death. He could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.

Shaniya'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.

Last week, he rejected a deal offered by prosecutors to guarantee a life prison sentence if he pleaded guilty. His attorneys said he maintains he is innocent.

His attorneys have argued that the first defense attorney on the case had reached a deal with prosecutors not to seek the death penalty if McNeill helped locate Shaniya's body. Prosecutors have denied any such agreement.

Jury selection finished Thursday, with eight men and four women selected as jurors for the two-month trial and three women and one man serving as alternate jurors.

Authorities say 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.

20 Comments

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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Apr 19, 6:25 p.m.

    stymie - "It's all about the money for the trial lawyers."

    It's all about the money for MOST lawyers.

    They're highly educated actresses and actors, who basically put on a show based around facts and history, to win an award - which is the compensation for either defending or prosecuting someone.

    That's the bottom line!!!

  • stymieindurham Apr 19, 5:17 p.m.

    "I have a hard time with defense lawyers, when it is obvious that someone is guilty how can a defense lawyer lie for them..."
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    It's all about the money for the tral lawyers. You should take a look at the compensation sheet the lawyer will turn in to the State at the end of the trial. See what THAT is going to cost us.

  • stymieindurham Apr 19, 5:13 p.m.

    "678 - "Everyone regardless what kind of crime they did, whether innocent or guilty have a right to and attorney, whether they can afford one or not."
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    Why do I have to pay for it? It's his crime, not mine. Let him pay for it. Oh, he can't? Well, too bad!!!!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Apr 19, 4:46 p.m.

    katgot - "The last thing anyone needs to to have this person get an appeal 10 years from now on a technicality."

    Yep!!!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Apr 19, 4:45 p.m.

    678 - "Everyone regardless what kind of crime they did, whether innocent or guilty have a right to and attorney, whether they can afford one or not."

    Yeah, yeah - we know!!!

  • wonderwoman 65 Apr 19, 4:42 p.m.

    I don't understand why the DA would not seek the death penalty for him and/or the mom. I guess since NC doesn't kill folk right now it is no longer an option. What those two people did to that little girl was horrible and they don't deserve to breath much less to be locked up for life while we feed, cloth, and attend to their medical and dental needs.

  • katgotyertongue Apr 19, 4:11 p.m.

    Let them take their time and cover all loose ends. The last thing anyone needs to to have this person get an appeal 10 years from now on a technicality. I'm not normally pro death penalty however in this case they have him on video with the child in the hotel. What a waste of a human being.

  • 678devilish Apr 19, 3:53 p.m.

    hard time with defense lawyers

    Everyone regardless what kind of crime they did, whether innocent or guilty have a right to and attorney, whether they can afford one or not. Learn the law, for you never know when you may find yourself in certain circumstances and will need that lawyer/attorney to defend you.

  • 678devilish Apr 19, 3:51 p.m.

    This seems like this is going to be a smart and wise judge. I am hoping after its all over with, the courts finds him guilty and give him life. Taking a life, just don't sit well with me. But giving his young man life without having parole ever is better. He will not have a life in prison, be assured of that.

  • so you dont like my opinion ok Apr 19, 3:30 p.m.

    @@@@ There is no redemption for what they have done. And how dare they "defend" themselves in our court system? @@@ I have a hard time with defense lawyers, when it is obvious that someone is guilty how can a defense lawyer lie for them...

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