Granville Ritchie Sentenced to Death, Murder of 9-year-old Felecia Williams

TAMPA, Fla.- Granville Ritchie has been sentenced to death for the brutal rape and murder of 9-year-old Felecia Williams in 2014. Prosecutors from the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office secured Ritchie’s conviction at a trial in September 2019, and the jury unanimously recommended the death penalty. At an in-person hearing today, which included a retelling of the details of the cruel murder, Judge Michelle Sisco affirmed the death sentence.

Judge Sisco’s ruling followed tearful statements from the victim’s grandmother, sister, father, and mother, Felecia Demerson, about the pain of missing young Felecia and the anguish of knowing the brutal details of the way she died. Demerson showed the Court a blanket she had made that bears her daughter’s photo and explained that she wraps herself in the blanket for comfort during the hardest times.

Assistant State Attorneys Scott Harmon and Jennifer Johnson presented a list of aggravating factors to merit the death penalty, including expert testimony of Felecia’s “torturous” experience in the final minutes of her life. Judge Sisco, visibly moved by the terrible details of the crime, issued the death sentence, and deputies led Ritchie out of the courtroom for transportation ultimately to Florida’s Death Row.

“In Florida, we reserve the death penalty for the worst of the worst offenses—and if the brutal rape and murder of a nine-year-old doesn’t fit that definition, I don’t know what does,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said.

“I want to thank everyone involved in this case, especially our office’s Homicide and Victim Advocacy teams, along with the Temple Terrace Police Department and other agencies who assisted, and we appreciate the professionalism of the Defense counsel throughout the process. Most of all, thank you to Felecia’s family, for putting their trust in us to make sure justice is done for their daughter.”

Last year, a jury found Ritchie guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery and aggravated child abuse. Jurors heard the details of the vicious crime, where prosecutors contend Ritchie raped and then strangled Felecia before hiding her nude body in a suitcase and dumping it into the waters of Tampa Bay. The 12 jurors unanimously recommended the death penalty. The impact of COVID-19 and various procedural steps delayed the final sentencing until today.

“This crime was so heinous and so brutal, it reaches that high bar where the death penalty is appropriate,” State Attorney Warren said. “This chapter has come to an end, but it’s never going to stop the pain for this little girl’s family. We should all keep them in our hearts in the difficult months and years ahead.”

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