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Jury begins deliberations in Garner mother's trial

Posted August 18, 2010
Updated August 19, 2010

— Jurors began deliberations Wednesday in the trial of a Garner woman accused of murdering her son and concealing his body, which was found in the closet of her home.

Sherita McNeil, of 1852 Spring Drive in Garner, is charged with first-degree murder and concealing the death of her son, DeVarion Gross.

During closing arguments on Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita cited phone conversations McNeil had with Ira James, the father of her daughter, where she said she hated DeVarion and abused him.

Jurors asked to listen to those recordings again on Wednesday afternoon as they deliberated McNeil’s fate. In the tapes, James begs McNeil to tell him where DeVarion is and what happened, but she remains mute.

Prosecutors have said James and McNeil had a plan to say that she was raped and forced to keep DeVarion because she was afraid of the child's father, Eric Chambers.

"You was raped. Are you listening?" James told McNeil during one of the calls. "You were raped and you were forced to keep that baby because you were in danger."

James was in federal prison when the calls were made to McNeil.

The jury also asked to review letters McNeil wrote to Chambers.

Defense attorney Bryan Collins said during his closing argument that McNeil eventually told police that the child died after falling off the couch and hitting his head on the coffee table.

Collins said McNeil didn't call 911 because she was afraid Chambers, a gang member, could have her killed.

The prosecution countered that argument with letters in which McNeil wrote she wanted to be with Chambers.

"If it was an accident, why wouldn't she have called 911," Shekita said. "It wasn't an accident."

Because DeVarion's remains were so decomposed, the medical examiner could not pinpoint an exact cause of death.

Shekita argued that the medical examiner couldn't tell what the last injury was that caused DeVarion's death because McNeil destroyed the evidence by hiding the body.

Medical examiner Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft said DeVarion's three rib fractures, all at various stages of healing, were a sign he was abused during the course of his short life, and that he would have been in too much pain to jump on the couch as his mother described.

Even if he had jumped from the couch, she said the child would have likely not died from his injuries.

"It is extremely rare for a child to die from a fall of less than three feet," Gaffney-Kraft said.

Testifying for the defense, Wake Forest University associate professor of pathology Dr. Donald Jason said it was possible the toddler died the way McNeil said he did.

Jason, who also serves as medical examiner in Forsythe County and teaches doctors how to perform autopsies, told jurors, "Nobody can tell and can give an opinion, a pathological and scientific opinion as to what the cause of death is."

Holding up a photo of DeVarion's decomposing body during closing arguments, Collins said, "They will argue this is evidence of a murder." He said the photo only showed evidence of concealing the body.

"She did not kill her son," Collins said.

Jurors will reconvene for a second day of deliberations on Thursday.


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  • we3rblessed Aug 19, 2010

    Thank u cth1, may ur day be blessed and uplifted.

  • cth1 Aug 19, 2010

    we3rblessed... I agree with your comments!!!! I think wildcat is just trying to stir the pot. That's obvious by the way he/she takes your ONE comment and responds in FOUR different comments. I've seen this person do this on other stories. Looks like someones just trying to get attention and get under your skin!!
    Have a blessed day!!! :)

  • we3rblessed Aug 19, 2010

    no thank u i deny ur request 4 help, I have GOD and that is the only thing i need. u sound like a ........ may the lord bless u

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Aug 19, 2010

    Blessed, you need to get help. If not for you, for those 3 children. You sound like a time bomb.

  • we3rblessed Aug 19, 2010

    mr. Middle of the road

    this world is NOT scary although it belongs 2 the devil and we have demons and angels fighting for and against us, while GOD plans the devil plots. Some chose to follow the path to righteousness and others choose to follow the path to h311.
    Violent? Thanks 4 another judgement, but I am not on trial accused of murdering any of MY 3 children. I haven't been to jail, accused, or convicted of any such violent act. I don't put my hands on, abuse, neglect, torture or hurt my children. So violent because people should get the same fate they gave to their own child or some1 else? Violent because I say they should burn in h311? Violent bcuz JUSTICE is not something they will get in prison? yeah I guess buddy what u r saying makes no sense but call it as u wish.

  • Lickad Aug 18, 2010

    If her and Laurean are let free, they could live happily ever after, together.

  • wildcat Aug 18, 2010

    we3rblessed...this young lady will get life in prison. Make sure your life is in good order.

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Aug 18, 2010

    It can be a very scary world we3rblessed, and violent people like you are what can make it scary.

  • we3rblessed Aug 18, 2010

    Why do u people think there is a heaven and h311. I guess we should just let every1 in2 heaven right? all the murderers, rapists, gangbangers, lawyers, etc. Then there would be no reason 4 h311, faith, God or anything else. people just don't make any sense she is a murderer, period. If she really was remorseful she would have taken her own life and spared her childrens. If it'd be ur child ur spouse did this to would u be so forgiving? If she was really sorry for her actions she would waive her right to trial and tell the judge she should have the same punishment as she chose to do to her children, be suffocated and then strapped in2 her seat and submerged in2 a river. Read the bible people not just the good parts.

  • we3rblessed Aug 18, 2010

    "Being in prison is being responsible for your actions. There you will obey all rules and regulations or suffer the consequences."
    If ur kid takes ur grandkids life would u say the same thing?