Jurors hear about finding Shaniya Davis' body

Mario McNeill enters the courtroom.

May 2, 2013 9:00:00 PM PDT
Mario McNeill's defense team Friday tried to keep the jury hearing his case from learning exactly how investigators came to learn where 5-year-old Shaniya Davis' body was found.

Prosecutors allege McNeill took the Fayetteville child from her home to a hotel in Sanford November 10, 2009 to rape her before killing her and dumping her body just off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett County line.

Search teams knew where to begin searching for the girl because on Sunday, November 15, 2009, McNeill's first attorney Allen Rogers called Fayetteville police and instructed them to look in an the area where hunters often toss deer carcasses in the area between Spring Lake and Sanford.

Rogers reportedly gave police the information in an attempt to get a plea deal that would have taken the death penalty off the table. McNeill's new lawyers say what McNeill told his lawyers is protected by attorney-client privilege. But Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons ruled before the trial began that jurors can hear that the lawyers gave police the information - but not how the lawyers got it.

Friday, McNeill's defense tried repeatedly to get the testimony of the officer who spoke with Rogers thrown out. Judge Ammons overruled the objection.

Jurors also heard from the search team member who discovered the child's body in a patch of kudzu.

McNeill is charged with 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.

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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