Jury begins deliberating in McNeill trial

May 22, 2013 2:24:37 PM PDT
Jurors began their deliberations Wednesday in the murder trial of Mario McNeill.

Jurors went home Wednesday without reaching a verdict. Deliberations willl resume Thursday morning.

McNeill, 33, is charged with murder in the alleged 2009 rape and killing of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. Prosecutors say McNeill took the child from her home in the early morning hours of November 10, 2009 to rape her at a motel in Sanford before killing her and dumping her body in an area known to be a place deer hunters dump carcasses just off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett County line.

Deliberations to began after McNeill's defense finished its closing arguments Wednesday morning.

"I want to tell you and ask you to look as this case, just as you promised you would," said defense attorney Butch Pope.

Pope challenged the jurors to consider the case solely on the evidence presented during the trial.

"Base this case on the cold hard facts, not from the media, not from the public, not from the things we've been hearing since 2009," he said.

McNeill has admitted he took Shaniya from her home to the motel in Sanford, but he claims he gave her to someone else and did not kill her.

Pope said prosecutors failed to prove he did.

"What they've  proven to ya'll so far is that he had Shaniya with him, he ended up at the hotel with her. But you know what? We told you that during jury selection," said Pope.

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. He could get the death penalty if convicted.

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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