A convicted Florida killer sentenced to death last year for raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl has filed an appeal with the state’s Supreme Court, seeking a new sentencing trial, according to a report.
Granville Ritchie was found guilty in 2019 of raping and strangling to death Felecia Williams and stuffing her body into a suitcase in 2014, FOX 13 in Tampa Bay reported.
“The child victim suffered a horrendous, physically painful, psychologically torturous death,” Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco said while administrating the sentence last year. “May God have mercy on your soul, Mr. Ritchie.”
At the heart of the defense’s argument is whether one of the prosecutors violated the “Golden Rule Law” by telling the jury to put themselves in the victim’s position, which critics say can increase a focus on a person’s biases rather than the evidence.
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“Can you imagine the dread of knowing that your life is ending and you are feeling pain all over your body?” Tampa prosecutor Scott Harmon said to the jury when he was advocating for the death penalty. “That pain would’ve been greater for a little girl.”
The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty, FOX 13 reported.
Florida Supreme Court Justice Jamie Grosshans said recently she was “trying to figure out how” Harmon’s remarks were “not a Golden Rule violation.”
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Rick Buckwalter, appellate attorney for Florida, agreed Harmon came close to violating the rule but claimed he didn’t cross the line.
Ritchie’s attorney Rachel Roebuck disagreed.
“Mr. Harmon is a veteran prosecutor who has been prosecuting homicides for 20 years. He wrote out this argument, he gave it to colleagues I guarantee you and tested it. This was deliberate,” she said, according to FOX 13.