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Shaniya Davis Update: Death penalty for Mario Andrette McNeill, N.C. man found guilty of killing 5-year-old

Mario Andrette McNeill in a Cumberland County, N.C. courtroom on May 15, 2013, during his murder trial
Michael Joyner via WRAL
(CBS) FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A jury in Cumberland County, N.C. deliberated for less than 40 minutes Wednesday before deciding that Mario Andrette McNeill should die for the November 2009 killing of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis, CBS affiliate WRAL reports.

PICTURES: Shaniya Davis: "Angel" found dead

The eight-man, four-woman jury convicted McNeill, 32, last week of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual offense of a child, indecent liberties with a child, human trafficking and sexual servitude in connection with her death.

Shaniya's body 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.

An autopsy determined that she had been suffocated, and she had injuries "consistent with a sexual assault" shortly before she died, according to a medical examiner, the station says.

In an initial six-hour interview with police, McNeill insisted that he merely took Shaniya to a hotel at the request of her aunt, and he then handed the girl off to somebody he thought was a relative who would ensure the child get to school, WRAL reports.

McNeill has maintained his innocence since his arrest. He even rejected a plea deal last month before his trial started that would have kept him off death row.

"Mario McNeill thinks he's smarter than police," Assistant District Attorney Rita Cox previously told jurors. "He denies everything - lie, lie, lie and lie."

After offering no evidence in his defense during the trial, McNeill told Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons on Tuesday that he wanted no one to testify on his behalf before sentencing. He even forbade his lawyers from offering any closing arguments to jurors, WRAL reports.

Investigators say Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, sold her to McNeill to pay off a drug debt. Davis 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 later this year, but prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty against her, according to the station.

Complete coverage of Shaniya Davis on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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