Granville Ritchie sentenced to death for murder of Felecia Williams, 9, girl's mom 'waited 2,310 days for this'
The 41-year-old man, who was accused of raping and murdering the nine-year-old girl from Tampa, received a death sentence from a judge on September 11
TAMPA, FLORIDA: Nine-year-old girl Felecia William's mother, Felecia Demerson, stood in court and narrated how much Granville Ritchie had stolen from her and her family by raping and murdering her little girl six years ago. "I just want to say that I’ve waited 2,310 days for this day to come," and added, "I am here to stand as a wounded mother. I’m here wearing all black because I’m here to bury (Ritchie) today," she said, according to a Tampa Bay Times report.
The 13th Circuit Court Judge Michelle Sisco sentenced Ritchie to death on Friday for the murder of the nine-year-old in 2014. The judge stated that the aggravating factors surrounding this incident reflected "extreme or outrageous depravity" and that the accused had been proven guilty of sexually battering a nine-year-old child and killing her showed cause for capital punishment despite mitigating factors presented by the defense.
Following the sentencing, the judge said to the defendant, "There will be no corporeal redemption for you — your physical being, your person." She added, "You will remain incarcerated until the date of your death is scheduled to occur."
Ritchie was found guilty in the death of Williams in September of 2019 of first-degree murder, capital sexual battery and aggravated child abuse. The formal sentencing in the case was however postponed due to the statewide shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ritchie was a stranger to the nine-year-old and their connection turned out to be Williams' neighbor Eboni Wiley, who was also a friend of the family. On May 16, 2014, Ritchie invited Wiley over to his mother's apartment in the Doral Oaks complex in Temple Terrace. Wiley had arrived with Williams and once at his place, she was tasked with buying marijuana while she left the child alone with Ritchie.
When Wiley had returned to the apartment, she found Wiley alone and when asked about the whereabouts of the child, he had claimed that he had given her money to buy candy from the nearby convenience store, but she hadn't returned. Prosecutors believe that Ritchie had raped the nine-year-old, strangled her to death in the absence of Wiley and hid the child's body in a suitcase.
He had later driven to the Courtney Campbell Causeway where he dumped the child, nude, into the bay. Wiley, during the initial investigation regarding the missing child, had stated to Temple Terrace Police that Williams had run away when Wiley and Ritchie were having sex, however, she recanted her statement the next day after Willaims' remains were found.
While she is the star witness in Ritchie's case, she has also been charged with lying in the investigation during a missing person case and her hearing is scheduled to take place next month. If convicted, Wiley could end up in jail for five years.
The defendant's lawyer Bjorn Brunvand had stated mitigating factors that should be considered and argued that Ritchie shouldn't receive capital punishment because of the abuse that he had faced as a child when in Jamaica and the fact that he did not have any priors. While the judge did accept this, she felt that this did not negate the heinousness of the crime, and hence, Ritchie was sentenced to death and it affirmed with the jury's decision too.
After the sentencing, the judge said to Ritchie, "I don't know what your spiritual leanings are...however if you do ever pray to a higher power, either now or at some point, and you truly seek forgiveness...I hope that it is granted. I do still see the humanity in you," and added, "May God have mercy on your soul, Mr Ritchie."