Twist in Shaniya Davis murder case

Mario McNeill
April 18, 2013 9:00:00 PM PDT
There was a twist Friday morning in the capital murder trial revolving around the death of a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl.

Mario McNeill could face the death penalty in the 2009 kidnapping, rape and murder of Shaniya Davis.

A jury is seated in the trial, but Friday morning, during a hearing, the public and press were asked to leave.

The move came after the state and defense began to disagree Thursday afternoon on whether to allow information into evidence pertaining to McNeill leading investigators to the child's body.

At a motions hearing Friday morning, Judge Jim Ammons unexpectedly cleared the courtroom.

"The matter has come to my attention that requires me, in the interest of justice, with no available means to me, to require this court to be closed to everyone except the parties that are involved," the judge explained.

Reporters were ordered out for about 15 minutes, let in for a couple of minutes, and then we learned the hearing has been continued until first thing Monday morning, which is when the court expected to begin opening statements.

Now the jury will not report until Monday afternoon. So far, there's been no clue as to what's behind the continuance.

McNeill faces first-degree murder, first-degree rape of a child, 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 related to Davis' death.

He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Authorities said the girl's body was dumped just off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett County line.

The trial is expected to be lengthy, with the state alone expected to argue two to three weeks. The state has 357 tagged exhibits.

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