Fayetteville, NC – The man accused of raping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Nicole Davis back in 2009 has rejected a plea deal that would have taken the death penalty off the table if a guilty plea had been submitted by the defendant.
Thirty-two-year-old Mario McNeill – who is charged with the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Davis – wishes to proceed with a trial, which if found guilty, could place him on death row in North Carolina. The trial is expected to last for two months.
McNeill tenaciously maintains his innocence, asserting during his hearing that he did not rape or kill the young girl whose body was recovered from dense kudzu in an overgrown rural area near NC Hwy 87 on November 16, 2009, six days after her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, officially reported the child missing.
Both Antoinette and McNeill were arrested as suspects in the girl’s disappearance days before her body was found. Charges were amended with each evidential discovery – progressing from kidnapping to murder.
Davis died from asphyxiation, strangled to death, according to an autopsy. The medical examiner also documented injuries consistent with sexual assault.
Authorities allege the mother was willfully prostituting the child to pay off a drug debt. Antoinette was found to be complicit in the death of her daughter, as it was stated she knowingly bartered and kept her child under sexual servitude.
Antoinette was indicted and charged with felony child abuse, felony sexual servitude, human trafficking, and indecent liberties with a child, sexual offense of a child by an adult offender, child rape, first-degree murder, and filing a false report.
Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal was so moved by the news of the crime that he paid for the little girl’s funeral. Nearly 2,000 attended.
According to CBS News, prosecutors have not sought the death penalty against Antoinette, though she has been seen as equally culpable as McNeill in the assault and death of the 5-year-old. She will be tried after McNeill’s case is resolved.
During the investigation, McNeill willingly surrendered to authorities. The girl was last seen alive hours after her disappearance on Comfort Suites hotel security footage, 30 miles from home. Video showed a man resembling McNeill carrying the child to an elevator. McNeill admits he left the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park where the child lived with Davis and took her to a hotel in Sanford but denies having anything to do with her rape and death and pled not guilty to kidnapping.