I will never understand how someone could ever hurt a little child…
The murder trial for the man who allegedly bought, raped and killed 5-year-old Shaniya Davis in 2009 is scheduled for Feb. 18.
Mario Andrette McNeill will go on trial more than three years after Shaniya’s death. The girl’s mother also faces charges; her trial is scheduled for Feb. 18, too, but only one of the cases will go forward then, said Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West.
It hasn’t been determined which trial will start first nor whether they will be conducted back-to-back.
The Shaniya Davis case made national headlines when her mother, Antoniette Nicole Davis, reported her missing to Fayetteville police in November 2009. Shaniya’s body was discovered in the woods in Harnett County six days later.
McNeill, 32, faces multiple charges including murder, child rape, kidnapping, child abuse and human trafficking. He is being held without bail in the Cumberland County jail.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
His trial likely will take two to three months, including jury selection, West said.
Davis, 28, is charged with murder, child abuse, sexual servitude, human trafficking, child rape and other charges. She is in jail with bail set at $3.5 million. Her trial likely will run about a month, West said.
She faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
While it typically takes a few years for a murder case to go to trial in Cumberland County, this one took longer than most.
West said there was a delay in his office receiving the investigative file from law enforcement because there were so many agencies involved, including the Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Bureau of Investigation and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Also, West said, it was difficult to coordinate with the schedules of McNeill’s lawyers, who are from out of town and spend most of their time defending clients in capital murder trials in numerous jurisdictions.
One of McNeill’s lawyers has another capital case late this year, West said. If that trial runs longer than expected, the Shaniya Davis case will be delayed until March 11.
Investigators think Antoniette Davis sold her daughter to McNeill on Nov. 10, 2009, to settle a drug debt. She then reported the girl was missing. McNeill is accused of taking the girl to a hotel in Sanford and then killing her and dumping her body after someone told him the police were looking for him.
Such a beautiful little girl. May she rest in peace.