Judge denies request to suppress 'emotional' testimony from victim's family

Granville Ritchie's defense team came to court with a wish list for the judge.

Topping their list was to limit potentially emotional testimony from the 9-year-old murder victim's family and friends. 

Ritchie's Attorney, Daniel Hernandez said he considers such testimony inflammatory and prejudicial.

"Any evidence that would create sympathy for the victim or the victim's family and probative value would be far outweighed by the undue prejudice," said Hernandez.

But prosecutor Scott Harmon says Felecia Williams's family and friends need a voice in the courtroom.

"There are multiple communities in each person's life, their family in this case,  their school,  neighborhood friends possibly of the victim," said Harmon.

But the defense's argument didn't hold a lot of weight with Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco.

"I will deny it as to striking and or limiting at this point in time," ruled Sisco. 

Ritchie is accused of raping and killing Felecia Williams and later dumping her body near the Courtney Campbell Causeway in the summer of 2014.

Five years later, the case is finally going to trial.

Ritchie faces the death penalty if convicted and prosecutors want to make sure if they get a conviction the defense doesn't try to politicize the death penalty or draw unfair comparisons.

"Comparing the facts or the sentences imposed on other capitol cases to this case especially in high profile cases such as notorious cases like serial killers like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson or Danny Rolling or other notorious killers," said Harmon.

But Hernandez was quick to respond, "judge again we would object I would submit its proper to try to convince the jury that the death penalty should be reserved for the worst of the worst."

Judge Sisco ruled the defense will not be allowed to mention notorious serial killers to the jury, but will be able to argue that the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst in society.

After the augments, the trial date was moved to September 2, 2019 after scheduling conflicts surfaced.