Shaniya Davis' Mother May Be Charged With Murder

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From CBS.com:

The father of a 5-year-old girl whose body was found off a rural North Carolina road regrets giving the girl’s mother a chance to raise their daughter, even though she seemed to be getting her life together.

Shaniya Davis’ father, Bradley Lockhart, said he had a one-night stand with Antoinette Davis and mostly brought up their daughter before letting Davis take care of her.

A month later, Shaniya was dead, her body dumped off a rural road and her mother accused of selling her for sex.

So, even if Antoinette Davis is not directly linked to her killing, could she be charged in some way in her daughter’s death?

Former Massachusetts prosecutor Wendy Murphy said on “The Early Show” she can’t predict.

However, Murphy said, if Davis knew the child was being taken or delivered for prostitution purposes, then she could be charged with murder under the felony murder rule.

Murphy explained, “She’s responsible for the consequences of a murder that follows in connection with a felony, and it certainly is a felony that she’s charged with thus far. So the possibility is there, for sure.”

As for prosecuting Shaniya’s 25-year-old mother, Murphy said, it could be hard persuading a judge and jury that a mother is capable of selling her child into prostitution.

“Believe it or not, that’s going to be the best defense here, just saying to the jury, ‘It doesn’t make sense, therefore, you have reasonable doubt,’ ” Murphy said. “And believe me, it works. But the truth is, sometimes mothers are capable of terrible things, and we romanticize motherhood sometimes to our own disadvantage, especially when it comes to protecting children. We have to be willing to accept that, sometimes, mothers can do things like this, literally selling their children for money.”

Murphy said Antoinette Davis could have been desperate, perhaps with a history of addiction.

“She might have a drug debt of some sort,” Murphy said. “I’m speculating here of course, but desperate mothers sometimes do terrible things.”

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Missing N.C. Girl, Shaniya Davis’s Body Found, [Updated 11.16.09, 1:19 p.m.]

SANFORD, NC (WTVD) — Fayetteville police said Monday they have found the body of missing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis.

The child’s remains were located in an area bordered by Highway 87 south and Walker Road – just south of Sanford – during a second day of searching.

Davis was last seen alive at a Comfort Suites hotel in Sanford last week – the same morning her mother reported her missing from her Fayetteville home. Police say a surveillance video from the hotel showed the child with 29-year-old Mario McNeill.

The area where police found the body is about 7 miles from the hotel.

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Mom Accused Of Selling 5-Year-Old Daughter Into Prostitution, [Updated 11.16.09, 9:58 p.m.]

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – A North Carolina mother accused of offering her 5-year-old daughter for prostitution is expected to appear in court.

Authorities were searching again Monday for Shaniya (shuh-NY-uh) Davis, who was reported missing by her mother last Tuesday.

Police arrested 25-year-old Antoinette Davis Saturday and charged her with human trafficking, felony child abuse involving prostitution and filing a false police report.

A short time after she reported Shaniya missing, a surveillance camera recorded a man carrying her into a hotel room in Sanford, about 30 miles away.

Police say that man, Mario Andrette McNeill, is charged in the girl’s kidnapping and he has said he doesn’t know where the girl is.

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