The Hillsborough County jury found Granville Ritchie guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery and aggravated child abuse. Ritchie was sentenced to death for raping and brutally killing a 9-year-old girl in May 2014. The death penalty came 6 years after the child's death, setting an emotional scene at the courtroom on Friday as the sentenced was handed down for the pedophile.
"The child victim suffered a horrendous, physically painful, psychologically torturous death," Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco said, reports said. "There will be no corporeal redemption for you — your physical being, your person."
9-year-old raped, killed, dumped in a suitcase
In May of 2014, the 9-year-old Felecia Williams was under the care of her neighbour, Eboni Wiley. Ritchie, 41, had been dating Wiley and the duo were watching the kid. The pedophile took the minor girl to his mother's apartment when Wiley went out to buy marijuana. He then strangled and assaulted the 9-year-old, prosecutors claimed.
Ritchie then hid the body in a suitcase and dumped into Tampa Bay. Initially, Wiley had claimed that Felicia never returned after Ritchie said he gave her money to buy candy from a store. But when the girl's body was found, Wiley changed her story. For this, Wiley is undergoing a separate trial for lying in a missing person investigation.
Father forgives pedophile
In a surprising turn of events on Friday, the father of the deceased young girl was present in the courtroom when the death sentence was handed down. But he was there to forgive his little one's killer.
"I'm not like everybody else, bro. I ain't got no ill will against you. The journey you got ahead of you going to need God. I forgive you. I forgive you, bro, that's how strong my God is. I come here and smile with no ill will. You are my brother. You made a mistake. You've got time to make right with God," Jerome Williams said, according to Daily Star report.
But Felicia's mother, however, couldn't do the same. "The only thing I regret today is I cannot ask for his fate and that would be for him to be hung. For him to feel what my daughter felt over and over again," Felecia Demersson, the mother, was quoted as saying.