Attorneys plead to jury during closing arguments - WNCN: News, Weather

Attorneys plead to jury during closing arguments of McNeill trial

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Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West took nearly three hours Tuesday morning to summarize his case against Mario McNeill. McNeill is on trial on charges of raping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis of Fayetteville in November 2009.

West reviewed all the evidence presented against McNeill during testimony. He also once again went over the timeline of the alleged crime. He told jurors that McNeill took the girl from her home to a hotel in Sanford where he raped her. He said McNeill then drove the girl 20 minutes down the road, suffocated her and dumped her body under a log and kudzu vines.

"The defendant doesn't want to face the music now," West told the jury. West also said to the jury that McNeill thought he was smarter than the jury and that he expected the jurors to let him walk out of the courtroom.

Assistant D.A. Robby Hicks reviewed each charge against McNeill and why the prosecutors believe McNeill is guilty.

"Tell the defendant that you know he did it," Hicks said to the jury. "Tell him with a verdict that says 'we're bringing you justice Shaniya. You deserve it.'"

McNeill's defense argued that he dropped of Shaniya with unidentified friends of her family and never saw her again. Defense attorney Terry Alford said there is too much circumstantial evidence, and not enough direct evidence, to convict McNeill.

"Have they connected all the dots or is the diagram a little confused?" Alford asked the jury, referring to a diagram of soil samples used as evidence.

Judge James Ammons Jr. said he would allow both sides as much time as they needed to make their arguments. Although Alford finished his part of the defense closing argument at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, defense attorney Butch Pope said he had more to add to the argument. Pope will begin his part of the closing argument Wednesday morning.

Ammons said he anticipates giving the juror instructions on Wednesday morning after Pope is finished. Ammons said his talk to the jury could take 45 minutes to one hour. The jury will then be free to deliberate on a verdict.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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