Opening statements begin in Granville Ritchie's murder trial

Prosecutors described in graphic detail the murder of 9-year-old Felicia Williams during opening statements of Granville Ritchie's trial Friday.

Officials said he raped and murdered 9-year-old Felicia Williams five years ago and then dumped the girl's body in a waterway off the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Ritchie faces the death penalty if convicted. 

A jury of nine women and six men was seated Thursday. 

During the first day of testimony, Felecia Demerson said her daughter, Felecia was like any 9-year-old.

"She loved people, she loved life, she loved animals and she most definitely loved her family," said Demerson.

She says Felecia, who she nicknamed Sugarplum, loved spending time with her next-door neighbor, Eboni Wiley.

"Their relationship was very close. Sugarplum liked to follow her everywhere she go," said Demerson. 

Felicia was with Eboni on the last day of her life.

"She called me about four o'clock and asked permission to go with Eboni," Demerson said. 

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Prosecutors say Eboni had fallen head over heels for a man named Granville Ritchie. They say the day of the murder, Ritchie picked up Eboni and Felecia. The three had lunch and then went to an apartment in Temple Terrace.

Prosecutor Scott Harmon says Ritchie asked Wiley to go buy him drugs, leaving him alone with Felecia.

Prosecutors described, in graphic detail, what happened next.

"The man-sized hands that placed around the throat of this little 9- year-old and choked the life out of her are right over here crossed in the lap of this defendant," Harmon told the jury. "When Felecia was being murdered, when she was being choked, when she was being strangled and raped, she was looking into the face of her killer."

Harmon says Ritchie put her lifeless body into a suitcase and dumped her near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

When Wiley returned, Ritchie apparently made up a story about Felecia running away.

Harmon says later, both lied to police and tried to cover their tracks. Around that time, Felecia's mother was getting the worst news any mother could get.

If Ritchie is convicted, he faces the death penalty. The trial is expected to last two weeks.