Local News

Co-worker: Mother would punch Garner toddler

Posted August 11, 2010

— The former co-worker of a Garner woman on trial in the death of her 19-month-old son testified on Wednesday that the woman said she would punch the child.

"I asked her, 'Why would you do that?'" Ashley McNair said of a conversation with co-worker Sherita Nicole McNeil. "She would say, 'So, he would be quiet.'"

McNeil, of 1852 Spring Drive, faces charges of first-degree murder and concealing the October 2008 death of DeVarion Gross. The boy’s body was found a few weeks later in a garbage bag inside a closet in his mother’s apartment.

McNair, who also lived in the same apartment complex as McNeil, said McNeil mainly talked about her daughter and not DeVarion.

"She didn't like him. She didn't love him the way she loved her daughter," McNair said.

After finding out about DeVarion's death, McNair said, she talked to McNeil, who she said sounded normal and showed no emotion.

McNeil's ex-boyfriend, Gregory Baines, said he also spoke to McNeil after the boy's body was found.

"She said what happened was an accident," Baines said.

Kay Washington - grandmother of devarion Grandmother testifies in Garner toddler death

The exact cause of DeVarion's death remains unclear.

An autopsy showed he was subject to “undetermined homicidal violence” and may have suffered abuse. The medical examiner said the child had three rib bone fractures.

Earlier Wednesday, DeVarion's grandmother Kay Washington testified that her son, Eric Chambers, and McNeil stayed at her home from November 2007 until spring 2008. During that time, Washington said McNeil "very rarely" interacted with the child, who was nicknamed “Poodie.”

After Chambers, McNeil and DeVarion moved out, Washington said she would still spend time with the boy. On one visit, Washington said she noticed DeVarion had a large scar on the top of his head. Chambers said McNeil told him the child had fallen down, Washington said.

In his final visit with her, Washington said, DeVarion was crying a lot. She felt that he was sick.

Becoming concerned, Washington started calling to check up on the boy, but McNeil said he was with her co-worker, Latracey Gross, who had also been DeVarion's first guardian.

McNeil gave DeVarion to Gross after he was born but later changed her mind and took him back when he was 8 months old.

In fall 2008, Washington said, she contacted Gross, asking to see DeVarion, but was told the boy was not living with Gross.

The call prompted Gross to contact Child Protective Services and Garner Police. The CPS sent Gross a letter saying there was nothing they could do.

Washington was also growing frustrated.

"I said, 'Where is he? Can't nobody tell me?'" Washington said. "On several occasions, me and some of my friends would actually go there (McNeil's home) looking for Poodie, but they would never let me come no further than the front door."

When DeVarion's body was found, McNeil's mother, Angie Harding, called Washington with the news.

"When she said that, I just started screaming and hollering," Washington said.

In opening statements Tuesday, public defender Bryan Collins said DeVarion fell into a coffee table. McNeil shook the child, but he did not respond.

Believing he was dead, McNeil picked up the phone to call for help but changed her mind, Collins said. McNeil feared Chambers would kill her if he found out, he told jurors.

On Wednesday, McNair said she would often hear Chambers yelling on the phone at McNeil. McNair said McNeil told her she was not afraid of him.

Baines testified that he had sex with McNeil in the bed a few steps from the closet where DeVarion's body was being kept. He said he didn't know the child's body was inside the closet, but he noted that there was a strong odor in the apartment. He thought the smell was possibly trash.

Despite everything, Washington said she isn't mad at McNeil.

"I'm not to judge Sherita – only God can do that," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • illegals--GO HOME Aug 11, 2010

    I hope this pathetic excuse for a mother has to spend the rest of her life in prison. Such a precious little child. How can you give birth to a child and not love it as much as you love your other child?? I can't understand that. All he wanted was love and someone to take care of him. But, some people put their own wants and needs ahead of that of taking care of their children!

    A stray animal out in the wild takes care of its own better than this!!!

  • com_mon_sents Aug 11, 2010

    OH gosh, the abuse, the denial, the ignorance, the "sex" in the same room of the body, the smell....my God!!! You darn right I'm gonna JUDGE!! Wasteful HUMANS, I'd call them animals, but animals don't even treat their young in this manner!

  • thought Aug 11, 2010

    So if the coworker saw this- did she report it to the authorities? I have more than once called and will do it agian! I may have saved the one child's life. It is not a joke when it goes that far.

  • UPTOP Aug 11, 2010

    This little boy was sooooo handsome. It's a shame the grandmother made the necessary calls and still nothing was done.

  • Brejasa Aug 11, 2010


    If you knew the black community as well as you think you do you'd know her statement was more religious based than anything else. Do we have a lot of issues, yes but so does every other race. It's just easier for people to point out the flaws in others to make themselves sit on a higher pedestool or have a scapegoat. Not all blacks are violent, disrespectful, lazy and not all whites are loving, harmless, innocent people. We can go on and on all day about flaws that each race has and guess what, my list would be just as long as yours, but that's childish. Her statement was on the basis of forgiveness, maybe she's just a REAL God fearing woman. If this should be the case she knows by being mad at someone means you haven't really forgiven them and if you don't forgive you won't be forgiven. Also, judge not lest ye be judged first. You may not believe what she does but don't disrespect her belief/feelings, she lost a grandchild not you.

  • Adelinthe Aug 11, 2010

    Such a beautiful little face.

    I wonder who his father is.

    God bless.


  • colliedave Aug 11, 2010

    Being with mom should be the safest place a child could be...praying for this little boy's soul. bluewind

    Tell that to Planned Parenthood.

  • Adelinthe Aug 11, 2010

    Mom2 - "Social Services might eventually get involved, but then give the mother 27 more chances to get it right while he would just continue to live in squalor with a parent that despises him, and abuses him."

    Now isn't that the truth!

    They'd rather preserve the family than protect the child.

    What's with that!?!

    In my opinion, when they've done that and it's resulted in further injury or death to the child, THEY should be held as accessories to the crime, because they knew what was going on there and let the child go back.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Aug 11, 2010

    armynavyseabee - "Frankly, I am stunned our incredibly callous and incompetent District Attorney is bothering to prosecute a case of Child Abuse, even if it did rise to the level of murder. Normally, he doesn't waste his time, preferring instead to persecute people that tether dogs up to trees and other such nonsense."


    Whatcha mean seabee???

    I've worked with Willoughby while serving as foreman on a Wake County Grand Jury, and talking with him sure didn't give me that opinion of him.

    God bless.


  • WRALcensorsforIslam Aug 11, 2010

    Frankly, I am stunned our incredibly callous and incompetent District Attorney is bothering to prosecute a case of Child Abuse, even if it did rise to the level of murder. Normally, he doesn't waste his time, preferring instead to persecute people that tether dogs up to trees and other such nonsense.