Suspect in 9-year-old girl's murder may be set free on bond - FOX 13 News

Suspect in 9-year-old girl's murder may be set free on bond

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Ritchie sits on the bench Thursday morning awaiting his bond hearing Ritchie sits on the bench Thursday morning awaiting his bond hearing
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Granville Ritchie is the only publicly named suspect in the murder of 9-year-old Felecia Williams, and could soon be out of jail.

Ritchie will be in court Thursday for an unrelated bond hearing.

Police had been hoping posted signs would jog witnesses' memories in the same place Williams' body was found.

But shop owners on the Courtney Campbell Causeway have come up empty.

"They gave me 5,000 signs," said Sonia Gutierrez. "I handed them all out, to everybody that came here."

In the nearly two months since Ritchie was arrested on unrelated drug and underage sex charges -- and publicly labeled a murder suspect by Temple Terrace police -- several of those charges have been thrown out.

He's being kept in jail on a single charge of sex with a minor.

"The judge is going to be setting a bond only on these cases, not on the fact that he may be a suspect in another case," said Tampa defense attorney Jeff Brown.

Williams' family has remained largely silent since her mother, Felecia Demerson, spoke in May.

"It has been agonizing, just wondering what happened," Demerson said at the time. "Why it happened."

Wednesday, family lawyer Ariel Gutierrez said the family is worried.

"Everybody is concerned he could get out. We are very concerned. If he has something to do with Felecia's death, you want him safely behind bars," Gutierrez said. "If he's the guy, I hope he stays there for the rest of his life.”

Ritchie has admitted Williams was in his apartment on May 16th. He said she walked out while he and a girlfriend had sex in a back room.

Police could keep Ritchie indefinitely if they charge him with a capital offense, but starting the speedy trial clock is risky if they can't tie him directly to her death.

"You don't want to file charges against somebody unless you know at the time you file them, you're going to be able to prove them," Brown said. "That's law enforcement 101."

Ritchie's story has been disputed by the girlfriend he was with in the apartment. She said Ritchie was alone with the girl while she was out buying marijuana.

When the girlfriend came back, she said Ritchie was panicking because the girl went to buy candy and never came back.

Now, two months later, Ritchie could be free.

 

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