Scant evidence found to link suspect to Fayetteville girl's death
Posted May 9, 2013
Fayetteville, N.C. — Forensic technicians said Thursday that they found little physical evidence linking a Fayetteville man to the 5-year-old girl he's accused of raping and killing more than three years ago.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 32, is charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in the death of Shaniya Davis. He could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.
Shaniya 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.
Prosecutors told jurors at the start of the trial last week that a hair was found in a Sanford hotel room to show McNeill was there with Shaniya shortly after she disappeared.
On Thursday, however, three State Bureau of Investigation agents testified about what they didn't find as they combed over the evidence.
DNA analyst Jody West said he found no evidence of any semen on swabs taken from Shaniya's body and clothing.
A medical examiner testifying Wednesday that abrasions around the girl's vagina were "consistent with a sexual assault" that occurred shortly before she died.
McNeill "cannot be excluded as an outside contributor" of DNA found on Shaniya's clothing, West said, but he wasn't a match for DNA found on a comforter from the hotel and a blanket found in a trash can outside Shaniya's home.
Forensic examiner Karen Morrow testified that McNeill's shoes don't match a footprint left on the blanket from Shaniya's home.
Trace evidence analyst Jennifer Remy said hair found on the girl's clothing didn't match McNeill. Her testimony is expected to continue when the trial resumes Monday.
An autopsy determined that Shaniya had been suffocated, but it's unclear how long her body was in the woods before it was discovered.
Investigators say Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Nicole 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. She will be tried after McNeill's case is over, but prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty against her.