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Brother gives shaky ID of Shaniya Davis' abductor

Posted May 1, 2013

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— Shaniya Davis' older brother testified Wednesday that the man who kidnapped his sister in 2009 looked like the Fayetteville man accused of killing her, but he isn't sure it was him.

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

The 11-year-old boy, who now lives with foster parents, said he was 7 and living in a Fayetteville mobile home in November 2009 with his mother, sister, aunt and two cousins. He said he was awakened one night by someone with dreadlocks and gold teeth coming into the home.

"I didn't recognize him. I couldn't see his face because it was too dark," the boy said.

Shaniya and her mother, Antoinette Davis, were sleeping in the living room at the time, the boy said, and when he got up the next morning, Shaniya was missing. Davis said she didn't know where the girl was, so the boy said he searched the surrounding trailer park for her.

Prosecutors used stick-figure drawings the boy provided to help him describe what happened, and he then singled out McNeill in the courtroom as the man who came into the trailer the night Shaniya disappeared. He said he had previously seen McNeill with his mother and knew who he was.

Defense attorney Terry Alford pounced on the discrepancy in the boy's testimony, saying the inflection in his voice when he identified McNeill sounded more like he was asking a question of Assistant Cumberland County District Attorney Rita Cox.

Mario Andrette McNeill in court Defense notes discrepancy in boy's ID of intruder

"You said (to your mother) you didn't know who came in?" Alford asked.

"Yes, sir," the boy replied.

"You were being truthful then, weren't you?" Alford asked.

"Yes, sir," the boy replied.

"You really don't know who came in, do you?" Alford asked.

"No, sir," he said.

The boy told Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons that he was nervous about testifying, and in response to Cox's questions, he said he told authorities previously that McNeill was the man who came into the family's mobile home.

"When you said it was Mario who came in the house, why did you say that?" Cox asked.

"Because it looked like him," the boy answered.

Tasia McClain, who lived in the same mobile home park as the Davis family, also testified Wednesday that McNeill planned to go to her house on the morning Shaniya disappeared so they could drink and play cards. She said she fell asleep before he got there, and she never saw him that day.

A Fayetteville Police Department forensic technician testified that he found a child's comforter covered in feces in a trash can outside the Davis home as police searched for Shaniya.

Her 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 she was reported missing.

McNeill was seen with the girl on a Sanford hotel security camera hours after her disappearance, but Alford told jurors in his opening statement Monday that McNeill took the girl there after her aunt asked him to hand her off to relatives to ensure she would get to school.

McNeill has repeatedly said he didn't kill her.

Investigators say Davis sold her daughter to McNeill to pay off a drug debt.

She 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.

41 Comments

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  • margaret4 May 2, 2013

    So let's scare the heck out of the little brother by putting him on the stand with McNeill in front of him. Let's also wait HOW many years since this happened to shed some doubt on the brave kid's testimony. Let's just forget all about what happened to that sweet, innocent adorable little girl who was killed in MY town. Let's just toss that aside and let that freak go so he can go "listen to his glowy aliens" and kill more kids after raping them and trading them for drugs. What a pleasant society we have.

  • 678devilish May 2, 2013

    If McNeil continues to say he did not take this child's life, why was the child in his arms by the elevator at this particular hotel; and caught on camera? After getting on and off the elevator, what happen to the little girl? When was her life taken, where and by whom?

  • Grand Union May 2, 2013

    It was ludicrous to put this kid on the stand.....firstly eye witness evidence is notoriously unreliable and secondly it was a kid at night, in the dark, 3 years ago.....
    If I was on the jury, they would have just hurt their case as it looks like desperation. What were the prosecution thinking?????

    If they had just asked what the kid saw and left it at that it would be fine.....man came, took his sister.....those are deatils that even a kid would be sure off, but trying to get him to ID the guy was silly.

  • indrdw May 2, 2013

    Can't understand why they needed the little boy to testify when they know the guy is seen on the hotel's security camera with the little girl. Guess everything they use can be disputed or done away with so they use everything to support the charges. Makes sense that way.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun May 2, 2013

    Tasia McClain, who lived in the same mobile home park as the Davis family, also testified Wednesday that McNeill planned to go to her house on the morning Shaniya disappeared so they could drink and play cards. She said she fell asleep before he got there, and she never saw him that day.

    (that's because he went to the Davis home instead. Where is the DNA)

  • ICTrue May 2, 2013

    Who cares that some sleazy defense lawyer can intimidate a child? I would love to be there to watch this guy and the girl's mother take their lethal injections. I only wish that they would hang them side-by-side in the town square. Do we still have a town square someplace?

  • djofraleigh May 1, 2013

    Why did they put him in that position?? -- COMMENT

    Good to be concerned for the child, but even that weak testimony narrowed the possible people who took the child away. Part of the noose that tightens the proof of opportunity to commit the crime.

  • djofraleigh May 1, 2013

    The "shaky" testimony didn't rule out the defendant.

  • shortcake53 May 1, 2013

    Such an awful job for a child. Why did they put him in that position?? Was there NO other way to put this dirtbag at the location? God bless this little boy and I pray for peace for him.

  • RUforREAL May 1, 2013

    Why? I don't understand why they would put this child on the stand?

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