Jamaican man sentenced to death in Tampa for killing and raping 9 year-old girl

A Jamaican man was sentenced to death today in Tampa, USA for the rape and murder of 9-year-old Felecia Williams in a grisly crime committed killed five years ago.

Ritchie remained impassive and poker-faced as he had throughout the three-week trial. As his fate was revealed, he did not show any emotion.

Prosecutors cited Felecia’s age, her sexual assault and the heinous nature of the crime as reasons for imposing the death penalty.

The same jury that found Granville Ritchie guilty of raping and murdering 9-year-old Felecia Williams decided Friday night that he should pay for his crimes with his life.

The panel of seven women and five men started deliberating just after 7 p.m. About three hours later, all 12 concluded that the 40-year-old man deserved the death penalty.

Their decision was announced just before 10 p.m. There were gasps in the courtroom.

The victim’s mother was quoted as saying: “I’m feeling very relieved this is over…it’s been a long five years. I got justice. I got exactly what I asked for.”

The defence attorneys had attempted to portray Ritchie as a brain-damaged man who grew up in poverty. Attorneys played a documentary-style video featuring interviews with dozens of Ritchie’s family and relatives in Jamaica.

They described him as intelligent, ambitious. A man who strove to help people the poverty-stricken and crime-plagued neighborhood where he grew up.

The girl left her Tampa home May 16, 2014, with Eboni Wiley. She was a neighbor and friend of Felecia’s family and considered herself the girl’s godmother. They went to meet a man Wiley had just met, Ritchie. They ended up at his mother’s Temple Terrace apartment. Ritchie sent Wiley to buy marijuana, leaving the girl behind.

After Wiley departed, the state said Ritchie raped and strangled the girl. The state theorized that he concealed her body in a suitcase and later that night drove it to the Courtney Campbell Causeway, where he dumped her into the water. Her body was found the next day, nude and battered by the rocks and mangroves.

Claude Mills

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