Local News

Accused child killer presents no defense in death penalty trial

Posted May 16, 2013

Mario Andrette McNeill sits in a Cumberland County courtroom on May 15, 2013, during his capital murder trial. He is accused of raping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis in November 2009.

— A Fayetteville man accused of raping and killing a 5-year-old girl more than three years ago has elected not to present any evidence in his death penalty trial.

Mario Andrette McNeill, 32, is charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in the death of Shaniya Davis. Her body was found on Nov. 16, 2009, in a kudzu patch off N.C. Highway 87 on the Lee-Harnett county line, six days after her mother reported her missing from their Fayetteville mobile home.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning. If the eight-man, four-woman jury finds him guilty, they would then hear evidence before deciding whether to sentence him to life in prison without parole or death.

Prosecutors called 44 witnesses over the past three weeks before resting their case Thursday morning.

Retired Fayetteville police Sgt. Chris Corcione was the final state witness, summing up the more than five hours of McNeill's videotaped interview with police that jurors watched Wednesday.

McNeill had surrendered to police after they identified him from a security video as having taken Shaniya to a Sanford hotel shortly after she disappeared. They grilled him for nearly six hours as they clung to the hope that she was still alive.

"Early on in the interview, it was clear Mr. McNeill was in denial mode," said Corcione, who led the questioning of McNeill.

"At one point in the interview, I thought it would be a good idea to plant a seed in his mind that someone told him to take the child," Corcione said. "I wanted him to grab onto that story and use that to legitimize the fact that he had the child."

Mario McNeill in court McNeill puts life in jury's hands

McNeill repeatedly denied even knowing Shaniya for about the first two hours of the interview, but he later told police that the girl's aunt asked him to take her to the Sanford hotel and hand her off to relatives who would ensure that she went to school.

Investigators told McNeill that his story sounded implausible and that a log of text messages to and from his cellphone didn't back him up.

"You killed that baby, didn't you?" Corcione asked during the interview.

"No, no, no," McNeill insisted.

"No reasonable person would take a strange 5-year-old person from the front porch," Corcione said. "You killed that little girl because you had to get rid of her because she's evidence of the crime."

"No, no, no," McNeill said.

A couple of days later, McNeill's attorney provided information that led investigators to Shaniya's body. An autopsy determined that she had been suffocated and had injuries "consistent with a sexual assault."

Defense attorney Terry Alford asked that all charges be dismissed against McNeill for insufficient evidence, but Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons denied the motion.

Ammons then advised McNeill of his right to remain silent.

"You should think about this long and hard before making this decision. It's your decision, not mine, not anybody else's," Ammons said.

McNeill said Thursday afternoon that he wouldn't testify, and his attorneys rested without offering any evidence.


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  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun May 20, 2013

    Sometimes teenagers sit quiet and let a parent assume the situation, guess and ask questions. They give short anwers and not all the information in fear of it showing their guilt & then punishment. He acts like a teenager and thinks if he just sticks to his story he will get away with these crimes.

  • torchhappysean May 17, 2013

    The courts need to quit letting this sick individual "play the system" and get this trial overwith.. If convicted the judge should sentence him to death with extreme prejudice....

  • BobLoblaw May 17, 2013

    He put on no defense because he has no defense and no evidence to back it up with.

    He is evidently a supremely cruel and cavalierly violent person. That anyone can do this to a 5-yo is sickening.

  • bill0 May 17, 2013

    "Why is he hiding this unknown person knowing he has a high crime charged to him and will most likley spend the rest of his life in prison. "

    Well, assuming he was working with someone higher up in his drug sales chain who also was involved in child trafficing.....

    He might rightly be calculating that the chances of "his friends" killing him are higher than the chances of the state killing him. Its not like he would go into the witness protection program after ratting out his accomplice.

  • 678devilish May 17, 2013

    This young man is being very foolish by not working and talking to his appointed lawyers. Why is he hiding this unknown person knowing he has a high crime charged to him and will most likley spend the rest of his life in prison. What is wrong with this man?

  • MonkeyFace May 17, 2013

    I still want to know who and where the "aunt" is in all of this! IF he's not guilty, there why not make it known who is? Why not provide the name of the person who last had her if he knows it wasn't him?

  • zonk May 17, 2013

    Because he has no defense !!!!

  • gnewsome1 May 16, 2013

    I would have loved to be on the Jury that tried this refuse. His days on earth would be numbered. I hope they are anyway. Anyone who does this heinous act to an innocent child should not breathe the same as we do.

  • lwe1967 May 16, 2013

    He had no defense. Better that he kept is mouth shut instead of blaming his situation growing up. He is a grown man and he made a very bad choice. Now he will have to pay for what he did. God rest the soul of the child.

  • jwjsdj May 16, 2013

    Caught Redhanded. Says he Didn't Kill This 5 YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL. Either way, He and the So-Call NO mom, still reponsible for her death ?? Directly or Accessary to It!!. Equally Guilty..