(CBS) FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A jury has convicted Mario Andrette McNeill, a Fayeteville, N.C. man, of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis more than three years ago, and is now considering the death penalty, CBS affiliate WRAL reports.
McNeill, 33, was convicted Thursday May 23 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 Shaniya's November 2009 death. The jury reportedly deliberated for just over 7 hours.
Assistant District Attorney Robby Hicks said in his closing argument Wednesday that the aggravating factors in the case "have the weight of bricks," compared with the "handful of feathers" in mitigation. He noted that McNeill was convicted of shooting three people a decade ago in addition to the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of Shaniya, the station reports.
"I submit to you, without hesitation, that the only punishment appropriate in this case - for these crimes - is the death penalty," he said.
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.
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, according to WRAL.
"My goal was freedom. I lost my freedom. What does it matter after that?," he said.
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.
Shaniya's father and half-sister reportedly wept Tuesday as they described for jurors the difficulty of dealing with her death.
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, the station reports.