Closing arguments complete in toddler death trial

Sherita McNeil

August 16, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
Closing arguments wrapped up in the Sherita McNeil murder trial Tuesday afternoon.McNeil is the Garner mother charged with killing her toddler son and hiding his body in a plastic tub in her closet.

During closing arguments, jurors heard two very different accounts of how McNeil's 19-month-old son, Devarion Gross, died.

Defense attorney Bryan Collins told the jury his client didn't intentionally kill her son, she only hid his body.

"This did not happen to 'Poodie' (Gross) on October the 4th or October the 5th; this is evidence of what happens when you conceal the body. So find her guilty of that," he said.

However prosecutors painted a different of McNeil, playing recorded phone calls in which she admitted she physically abused the 19-month-old boy because she hated him.

McNeil has been accused of abusing her son over the course of several weeks before eventually killing him and stuffing his body in a plastic tub.

"He wanted his momma and for six weeks he lay rotting and decomposing while his momma carried on like nothing was wrong," Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said. "She knows what she's doing is wrong."

But Collins argued there is no direct evidence pointing to McNeil as a murderer, the evidence is only circumstantial.

"All these letters and phone calls and suspicions of abuse used in this case is to make you think that Sherita McNeil is a murderer," he said. "They can't prove there was a murder, so they try to convince you she is a murderer and hope you don't understand the difference."

The prosecution says the reason for the lack of evidence is simple, McNeil destroyed it.

The jury will return Tuesday morning to receive instructions from the judge and begin deliberations.

If convicted of first degree murder, McNeil could spend the rest of her life in prison.

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