Brother gives shaky ID of Shaniya Davis' abductor
Posted May 1, 2013
Fayetteville, N.C. — 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.
"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.