TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Opening statements began Friday morning in the murder trial for Granville Ritchie, who is accused of raping and killing a 9-year-old girl.
After days of questioning potential jurors, prosecutors and defense attorneys seated twelve jurors and three alternates.
Ritchie is on trial for the 2014 rape and murder of 9-year-old Felecia Williams.
Williams was known to friends and family as “Sugar Plum,” a sweet 9-year-old girl who enjoyed being a cheerleader.
Prosecutors said Ritchie put her body in a suitcase, which he left near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
He faces the death penalty if convicted. All jurors must agree on that sentence.
Williams’ mother, Felecia Demerson said her daughter did not ask to die and that Ritchie took her away from her family and community.
“It’s been a long time coming and this is one step away from closure,” she said.
The trial may take up to three weeks.
Jurors began hearing opening statements from both sides at 9 a.m. Friday.