Trial draws visitors to Shaniya Davis' gravesite

Mario McNeal listens to testimony.
May 12, 2013 9:00:00 PM PDT
As jurors in the Mario McNeill murder trial continue to hear from SBI lab agents about evidence they processed, visitor after visitor are stopping by the granite marker that identifies Shaniya Davis' grave.

McNeill, 33, is being tried in Cumberland County Superior Court on seven charges, including the first-degree murder and rape of the 5-year-old Fayetteville girl. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors have said Shaniya's mother, Antoniette Nicole Davis, 28, gave her daughter to McNeill in November 2009 to settle a drug debt. Davis will be tried on similar charges but doesn't face death.

McNeill allegedly took Shaniya to a Sanford hotel.

Surveillance photos from the hotel show McNeill carrying the girl towards an elevator. Prosecutors said he raped her in the room and then took her out to kill her and dispose of the body.

SBI hair examiner Jennifer Remy told the courtroom Monday that hair from a hotel comforter was microscopically inconclusive with McNeill's hair -- meaning it showcased similarities and differences from his hair sample and could not be tied to him 100 percent, which has been the case with most of the hair testing.

However, all of the hair is undergoing another stage of DNA testing, but the results have not yet been revealed.

The state though, still maintains they should close their case by Wednesday.

Since the trial began five weeks ago, visitors to Shaniya's grave have become more common, with people leaving stuffed animals, flowers and other items.

According to the staff at Fayetteville Memorial Cemetery, where Shaniya was laid to rest, her father calls the office to ask them to order flowers for his daughter's grave on special occasions.

Bradley Lockhart moved to Alabama a couple of months after his Shaniya's death. He returned to town for McNeill's trial.

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