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First witnesses take stand in trial of man accused of killing 9-year-old in Tampa

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Opening statements began around 9 a.m. Friday in the case of Granville Ritchie, the Hillsborough County man accused of killing 9-year-old Felecia Williams in 2014.

“Felecia Williams’ life meant nothing to this man,” Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon said during the State of Florida’s opening statements.

Harmon said that Ritchie met Williams through a mutual friend. He claims Ritchie raped the little girl then strangled her.

“The evidence will be clear,” Harmon said. “Man-sized hands choked the life out of her.”

The little girl’s body was found in the water near the Courtney Campbell Causeway, officials said.

The defense team skipped opening statements, immediately going to the first witness of the case: Felecia Demerson, the little girl’s mother.

“She was very mischievous. She was a very amazing, beautiful little girl,” the girl’s mom said.

Demerson said her daughter was known as ‘Sugar Plum,’ a nickname.

Demerson explained that her daughter was close to Eboni Wiley, a neighbor of the family. Wiley apparently introduced the little girl and Ritchie, officials said.

One of Williams’ five sisters also took the stand Friday and explained the relationship between the girls and Wiley.

Judge Michelle Sisco wrapped up testimony just before 1 p.m. Friday. The trial resumes at 9:15 a.m. Monday.

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