TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Felecia Williams loved animals and spending time with her family, who nicknamed her "sugar plum." At nine years old, her life was tragically cut short, and the man responsible is scheduled to learn his punishment.
On Tuesday, a jury found Granville Ritchie guilty of raping and killing Williams in 2014, placing her body in a suitcase, and dropping it off the Courtney Campbell Causeway bridge. On Wednesday, the same jury will decide whether he should face the death penalty as the sentencing phase of the case begins.
Ritchie didn't react Wednesday when juror handed down their verdict of finding him guilty of raping and murdering the 9-year-old. The jury took four hours to arrive at their verdict, but for Williams' family, as well as the men and women who helped investigate the case, it has been a very long five-year water.
Williams' mother, also named Felecia, declined to speak after the jurors read their decision, but Temple Terrace police chief Kenneth Albano said this was a case that has consumed him since the child's 2014 death.
"When you deliver a message to a mother that their 9-year-old little girl is gone," he said following the verdict, "you can't help but be grafted into the family and into the grief and into the mourning."
Prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty while Ritchie's defense team will try to convince jurors to spare him. The jury's decision must be unanimous.
Attorneys are scheduled to make their arguments Wednesday morning, around 9:30 a.m. Then, the jury will be asked whether or not to sentence Ritchie to death for the rape and murder of young Williams.