Police video shows mother re-enacting son's death
Posted August 13, 2010
Raleigh, N.C. — Prosecutors on Friday showed videotapes of police interviews in which a Garner woman on trial for murder re-enacts how she claims her 19-month-old son died in 2008.
Sherita Nicole McNeil faces charges of first-degree murder and concealing the death of DeVarion Gross. McNeil's brother, Anthony, found the boy's badly decomposed body in his mother's closet, wrapped in a garbage bag and doused in bleach, in November 2008. Authorities estimate he died six weeks earlier.
During the five-hour interview recorded after her arrest, McNeil tells police that her son fell and hit his head on a coffee table. She holds a baby doll to re-enact the scene.
"He's jumping like this and come, come down, and then went, 'boom,'" she says in the interview.
Defense attorneys have said that McNeil didn't call 911 for fear of going to jail and of the boy's father, Eric Chambers.
"I was shaking," McNeil says in the recorded interview. Calling the child by his nickname, she says, "Poodie, Poodie, are you OK?"
"His body just got real limp, like he was dead," she continues.
McNeil cried for the first time at the trial when she watched the recordings of the police interviews.
Prosecutors have argued that a medical examiner found that DeVarion's rib fractures proved that his death could not have happened the way McNeil said it did. Relatives and caregivers of the boy have testified that they suspected his mother of abuse and neglect.
A guardian, Latracey Gross, cared for DeVarion until McNeil said she wanted him back when he was 8 months old.
Defense attorneys, who have yet to present any witnesses, have said that McNeil took the boy back under pressure from his father, who is serving time as a habitual felon.
On Friday, prosecutors played numerous audio files, including taped conversations between McNeil and the father of her older daughter, Ira James. He is in federal prison in South Carolina.
"Nobody else do not understand how I feel about the child, so nobody make me like him," McNeil says in the tapes.
On Tuesday, prosecutors read a letter from McNeil to James that police found: "I hated that baby and Eric the whole time. All I have for them is hate. ... I don't love him and I never will," the letter read.
In the recorded conversations, James tries to prod McNeil to tell him what happened to DeVarion.
"Did you do something to you son?" he asks.
In response, McNeil mumbles, "I can't, I can't," then trails off.
The trial will resume Monday.