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Mario Andrette McNeill denies raping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis in handwritten letters sent to The Fayetteville Observer.
McNeill, 32, is scheduled to stand trial April 8 in Cumberland County Superior Court. He faces the death penalty if convicted of the November 2009 killing.
He claims innocence in two letters postmarked Feb. 15 and addressed from the Cumberland County Detention Center. The Observer received the letters Wednesday.
In one, McNeill writes: "I did not take or kidnap Shaniya Davis. I did not purchase, buy, trade, sell or exchange Shaniya Davis. I did not molest, sexually assault, rape or ravish Shaniya Davis. I did not kill, murder, or take Shaniya Davis's life, nor did I have any prior or beforehand knowledge as to what was to and/or did occur."
In the second letter, he disputes two recent charges of sexual exploitation, which he says are related to images found on his cellphone.
McNeill's lawyers could not be reached for comment about his statements.
Authorities accuse Shaniya's mother of selling her child to McNeill to settle a drug debt, then falsely reporting her child as missing. Police say McNeill assaulted the child in a Sanford hotel before killing her and leaving her body along N.C. 87 in Harnett County. Shaniya' s body was found six days later.
The case captured national attention almost immediately after the girl's mother, Antoniette Nicole Davis, reported her missing from their home off Murchison Road. McNeill became a suspect soon after when surveillance cameras at the Sanford hotel captured images of him with the missing child on the morning she allegedly disappeared.
Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West could not be reached Wednesday to comment on McNeill's letters. He has previously declined to discuss specifics of the case.
West plans to try McNeill before trying Davis. His trial had been scheduled to begin this week but was pushed back to April. He faces multiple charges including child rape, kidnapping, child abuse and human trafficking.
Davis, 28, is charged with murder, child abuse, sexual servitude, human trafficking, child rape and other offenses.
Last week, prosecutors charged McNeill with second- and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. An indictment Feb. 11 accuses him of possessing a photograph of a female child engaged in sexual activity.
McNeill, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, wrote in his letter that the pictures were found on his phone. He said the female is a 23-year-old who looks like a teenager. He took the pictures when she was 20, he wrote.