Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part follow up of the post Sins of the Mother. The second part and final part to this series will be published after Shaniya Davis’ mother Antoniette Davis’ trial concludes later this year.
With the sentence, McNeill will become the 44th inmate executed in the state of North Carolina since the current statute was adopted in 1977. He will be the first since 2006.
A full list of inmates who have been executed by North Carolina can be found here.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — For seven weeks, a jury of Mario McNeill’s peers listened to prosecutors make a case against the 33-year-old who was charged with seven counts including first degree murder.
McNeill’s attorney, Harold “Butch” Pope tried to convince the jury that his client, despite video surveillance showing McNeill carrying Davis, who was 5-years-0ld at the time of her death through a ‘Comfort Suites’ was not responsible for her murder. Pope argued that McNeill don’t know what happened to Davis after he dropped her off at the ‘Comfort Suites’ in November of 2009.
The jury didn’t buy it.
After deliberating for 7 1/2 hours, the jury delivered the verdict a little before 20 til 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
The first degree murder charge could mean death for McNeill.
I begin following the trial after it had begun but thanks to great coverage by Fayetteville Observer reporter Michael Futch (@FO_Futch), I was brought up to date and kept abreast of the proceedings.
I am admittedly one of those people who felt from the jump that McNeill need to die for what was done to Davis. But as the trial went along, a few doubts crept in. On May 9, testimony from SBI agents revealed that there were no DNA evidence of McNeill found on Davis, despite her body missing a hymen.
With the lack of DNA I wasn’t sure if the jurors would find enough other evidence to convict McNeill of many of the charges against him.
The jury nonetheless dropped the hammer.
My mother and I discussed the verdict and she brought up an interesting question: if McNeill didn’t rape her, who did? (The jury found McNeill not guilty of child rape.) My mother’s theory is that McNeill was just the middle man between Antoniette and the dealer she supposedly had the debt with. This third person could have been the one who committed the heinous crimes against Davis and had McNeill take the fall.
I think the theory is plausible. The same SBI testimony did admit to recovering DNA from an “unknown contributor” but because of the investigators having just Davis and McNeill’s DNA sample to work with, they couldn’t match it with anyone else.
In the end, McNeill is the one who will possibly die by the state of North Carolina by lethal injection — a fitting punishment indeed.
Read the Fayetteville Observer story in its entirety here.