McNeill sentenced to death for murder of Shaniya Davis

FAYETTEVILLE, CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WTVD) - Jurors in the Mario McNeill murder trial quickly decided Wednesday that he should be sentenced to death for the murder of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis.

The jury in the case reached their verdict within 30 minutes of receiving instructions from a judge following an one-sided closing argument from prosecutors for why McNeill should get the death penalty. The court then accepted the sentence.

Following the decision, the judge and Shaniya's father, Brad Lockhart, addressed McNeill.

Lockhart told McNeill from the witness stand that he made a mockery of the court by laughing and smirking.

"You didn't win," he said. "I'm just going to pray for you."

"You did not have to kill that child," the judge added.

McNeill replied, "I didn't."

The judge then told Shaniya's family, "I can't give you justice."

On Tuesday, McNeill went against the advice of his legal team and told the judge he did not want to present any evidence or call witnesses in the penalty phase of his trial.

Last week, they found the 33-year-old guilty of first-degree murder.

McNeill was found not guilty of first-degree rape of a child, but guilty of first-degree kidnapping, human trafficking with a child victim, sexual servitude with a child victim, sexual offense of a child and indecent liberties with a child charges.

Prosecutors said in 2009, McNeill took the child from her Fayetteville home to sexually assault her at a motel in Sanford before killing her and dumping her body in an area known to be a place where deer hunters dump carcasses just off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett County line.

Normally in such cases, both the prosecution and the defense call witnesses and present evidence during a trial's penalty phase.

"Justice is with us, but we're not done," Assistant District Attorney Robby Hicks said. "For justice to be complete in this case, a punishment has to be determined. For that man over there. A man who now among other things, a child murderer."

The state also asked that the jury not sympathize with McNeill for not having his defense team put on a case.

McNeill arrived at Central Prison in Raleigh late Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecutors have also charged Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Davis, with selling her daughter to McNeill to pay a drug debt. Davis hasn't been tried yet.

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