TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It took the jury a little more than four hours to convict Granville Ritchie of raping and killing 9-year-old Felecia Williams.
Wednesday’s guilty verdict was the moment the Temple Terrace Police Department, in particular Chief of Police Kenneth Albano, has waited five years for.
As the court read the verdict, Ritchie barely moved a muscle. Albano, sitting next to Williams’ mother Felecia Demerson, breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Closure,” Albano said leaving the Hillsborough County Courthouse, when asked what the verdict meant to him. “We’re not finished, but closure.”
Demerson declined to comment, saying she’s waiting until after the penalty phase, which begins Thursday morning.
The state is seeking the death penalty. It’ll be up to the jury to decide if Ritchie faces death, or life in prison.
Albano’s small department took the helm of a massive investigation when Williams’ disppeared from a Temple Terrace apartment in 2014.
Albano broke the news to her mother, when Williams’ body was found near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
“You can’t help but be grafted into the family, and the grief and the mourning,” Albano said Wednesday.
He’s been by the family’s side during the two week trial, as the state argued Ritchie deserved to die for raping and strangling the little girl.
8 On Your Side also spoke to former Temple Terrace detective Tom Carroll Wednesday night, who called the verdict “very satisfying.” Now retired, Carrol led the Williams’ investigation and was one of the state’s key witnesses.
The defense argued the evidence was all circumstantial, with no DNA and no signs of sexual battery on Williams’ body.
“We’re going to do the best we can to present his case and try to save his life,” said defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand, leaving court Wednesday.