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McNeill found guilty of murder in Shaniya Davis case

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

A jury has found Mario McNeill guilty of first-degree murder in the case of Shaniya Davis.

He is not guilty of child rape, the jury decided.

The jury found him guilty of kidnapping, sexual servitude with malice. He also was found guilty of sexual offense with a child and human trafficking.

The jury returned to the courtroom Thursday afternoon around 3:40 p.m. to deliver the verdicts. There were no outbursts in the courtroom when the verdicts were announced.

Judge James Ammons denied a motion by the defense for life without parole.

The jury will return to court Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to begin sentencing.

Defense attorney Butch Pope had argued Wednesday that the state of North Carolina really doesn't know what happened in the Shaniya Davis murder case, and that the evidence is inconclusive.

McNeill, 33, was accused of raping and killing Shaniya Davis in November of 2009. The girl was 5 years old.

The state, Pope told the jury Wednesday, "doesn't know really what happened."

Pope continued his argument by saying the state's evidence does not directly link McNeill to the crimes. He asked the jury to disregard soil sample evidence that prosecutors claimed linked McNeill to the area where Shaniya's body was found. Pope also told the jury it is unclear exactly when Shaniya was killed. He said it may have been more likely that she was killed after McNeill last saw the girl alive.

McNeill's defense has previously claimed that McNeill dropped off Shaniya with friends of her family.

 

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