FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina — Jurors deliberated for less than 40 minutes Wednesday before deciding that a man convicted of killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl in 2009 should die for the crime.
The Cumberland County jury said Mario McNeill should get the death sentence for the slaying of Shaniya Davis. Her body was found in a kudzu patch six days after her mother reported her missing.
Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, berated his daughter's killer.
"I can never get Shaniya back. You've taken that from me," Lockhart said. "You were the last thing my daughter got to look at."
District Attorney Billy West said McNeill showed no remorse for Shaniya's death.
"He showed no regard for her innocence when he kidnapped her from her home in the middle of the night," West said in closing arguments Wednesday. "He showed no regard for her life when he murdered her and left her along desolate Walker Road."
Shaniya's body was found Nov. 16, 2009, in a kudzu patch off a state highway, six days after her mother reported her missing from their Fayetteville mobile home. Investigators say Shaniya's mother, Antoinette Davis, sold her to McNeill to pay off a drug debt. Prosecutors won't seek the death penalty against Davis when she's tried later this year.
A medical examiner said the autopsy showed Shaniya was suffocated and had injuries consistent with sexual assault.
The jury last week convicted McNeill of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual offense of a child, indecent liberties with a child, human trafficking and sexual servitude.
After presenting no evidence in his defense at trial, McNeill said Tuesday he wanted no one to testify on his behalf before sentencing. He ordered his attorneys not to give closing arguments.
McNeill is the first person sentenced to death in North Carolina since December 2011, state Public Safety Department spokesman Keith Acree said.