TAMPA, Florida (AP) — A Florida man was sentenced to death on Friday for raping and killing a 9-year-old girl.
Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Michelle Sisco affirmed a jury’s unanimous death penalty recommendation for Granville Ritchie, the Tampa Bay Times reported. He was found guilty last year of first-degree murder, sexual battery and aggravated child abuse.
Ritchie’s attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, had argued that Ritchie’s abusive and violent childhood in Kingston, Jamaica, and lack of prior criminal history should prevent him from being put to death.
Ritchie, 41, was dating 9-year-old Felecia Williams’ neighbour, Eboni Wiley, in May 2014, prosecutors said. Ritchie and Wiley were watching the girl one day and took her to his mother’s apartment. Ritchie sexually assaulted and strangled the girl while Wiley went to buy marijuana, prosecutors said. Ritchie then hid the girl’s body in a suitcase and later dumped her from a causeway into Tampa Bay.
Wiley testified that Ritchie told her he gave Felecia money to buy candy at a nearby store, but she never returned. Wiley had initially told police that the girl ran away but changed her story after Felecia’s body was found, officials said. Wiley was charged with lying during a missing person investigation and is scheduled to face trial next month.