Suspect denies killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis

Mario McNeill appears in court for a pre-trial hearing Friday January 11, 2013. (Lou Guilette)

February 20, 2013 9:00:00 PM PST
A man accused of raping and killing a 5-year-old North Carolina girl more than three years ago is denying the allegations.

The Fayetteville Observer reported it has received letters from Mario Andrette McNeill in which he denies the allegations involving Shaniya Davis.

The 32-year-old McNeill, is to go on trial April 8 in Fayetteville. He could be sentenced to die if he is convicted in the 2009 death.

McNeill pleaded not guilty to charges of second and third-degree exploitations of a minor last week. He is also charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape of a child, child abuse, human trafficking and sexual servitude.

The newspaper said McNeill said he did not abduct the child, did not buy the child, did not assault the child and did not kill the child.

Authorities accuse Shaniya's mother of selling her to settle a drug debt.

Police say McNeill assaulted the child in a Sanford hotel before killing her and leaving her body in Harnett County.

McNeill is set to go on trial in April in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Authorities said the girl's mother gave the girl to McNeill to settle a drug debt in Nov. 2009.

The trial for the girl's mother, Antoniette Nicole Davis, is likely to come after McNeill's trial.

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