Detroit man to be tried in rape, death of girl, 5

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

DETROIT A judge has ordered a trial for a Detroit man accused of abducting, raping, killing and then burning the body of his girlfriend's 5-year-old niece.

Twenty-two-year-old Darnell H. Cheatham is charged with first-degree murder, torture, child abuse, arson and mutilation of a body.

On Tuesday, a Detroit district judge ruled there's enough evidence to send Cheatham to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court, where his first appearance is scheduled Dec. 3.

County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Cheatham took Mariah Smith from her Detroit home in July 2011. Mariah's burned body was found on a mattress in a vacant house about a mile from her home.

Prosecutors say Cheatham was Mariah's aunt's boyfriend.

The Associated Press left a phone message Tuesday seeking comment from defense lawyer James Schlaff.

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