Juror asks to be excused after emotional testimony from victim's mother in Ritchie sentencing

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Felicia Demerson's piercing glare was aimed directly at her 9-year-old daughter's killer, Granville Ritchie in the courtroom Thursday.

The day before, a jury found Ritchie guilty of killing the little girl and dumping her body over the Courtney Campbell Causeway bridge in 2014. The same jury must now decide whether Ritchie will get life or the death penalty.

During the first day of Ritchie's sentencing, Demerson read her victim statement to the courtroom. 

"Felecia's death has affected my life and took its toll on my entire family. Even though it's been five years, it feels like five days ago. I have not yet returned to work. I have been diagnosed with chronic depression... I'm on seven types of medication, trying to cope with this new normal called life," said Demerson.

She told the jury she knew from the beginning, her 'sugar plum' would be her special child.

"Sugar Plum didn't only touch lives through death. She also touched lives through living. You truly will never understand what a unique individual you took from us," she told Ritchie. 

The testimony was too much for some to handle. 

As Demerson walked off the stand, one juror was overcome with emotion.

The judge immediately took a break.

Defense attorney Danny Hernandez seized on the moment, asking the judge to strike the entire jury panel. 

Prosecutor Scott Harmon argued the moment did not warrant such drastic measures.

"Judge, my response is, a juror was acting as responsibility as she could. She was becoming emotional. They are human beings, they're not machines," said Harmon.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco asked to hear from the juror, who said she the incident was isolated. 

"This was just a very personal part and I recently had a loss, and it just brought that feeling back, but the rest is probably going to be OK. I feel confident that it will," the juror explained.

The penalty phase of the trial continues Friday.