Local News

Suspect in girl's death wants jury to hear full police interview

Posted May 14, 2013 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2013 5:32 a.m. EDT

— The Fayetteville man accused of raping and killing a 5-year-old girl more than three years ago on Tuesday demanded that jurors hear his six-hour interview with police in its entirety.

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.

McNeill was questioned by police three days after Shaniya disappeared, after investigators determined he and the girl had been at a Sanford motel.

Prosecutors planned to read portions of his statement to the eight-man, four-woman jury on Wednesday, but McNeill said he wanted them to hear everything.

Defense attorney Terry Alford told Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons that he and fellow defense attorney Butch Pope tried to dissuade McNeill from his demands but said they had "reached an impasse with that."

Ammons warned McNeill that he was entitled to keep some of the material covered in the interview from the jury, such as prior drug charges and a conviction for shooting three people.

"Mr. McNeill, are you sure this is what you want to do?" Ammons asked.

"I want you to leave it in," McNeill replied.

"He wants it all coming in. We're going to defend his right to make that decision," Alford said.

The statement will be a clear departure from several days of forensic testimony as prosecutors tried to link McNeill to evidence taken from Shaniya's home, the Sanford hotel and the site where her body was found.

An autopsy determined that Shaniya was suffocated and suffered injuries "consistent with a sexual assault" shortly before she died.

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.