DETROIT (AP/WWJ) – A judge has declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked while deliberating the fate of a Detroit man accused of abducting, raping and killing his girlfriend’s 5-year-old niece.
Darnell Cheatham, 22, is charged with first-degree murder, torture, rape and arson in the death of Mariah Smith.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin declared the mistrial Tuesday.
Prosecutors said Cheatham took Mariah from her Detroit home July 24. The girl was strangled and her skull crushed before her body was set on fire on a mattress at a vacant house, about a mile from her home, in 2011.
Defense lawyer Kareem Johnson says Cheatham maintains his innocence.
Wayne County prosecutor’s spokeswoman Maria Miller told the Detroit Free Press that prosecutors will retry the case.
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