Man charged in rape, murder of girl, 5

Prosecutors have filed charges against a Detroit man they say abducted, raped and killed, then burned the body of his girlfriend's 5-year-old niece in 2011.
AP Wire
Oct 22, 2013

Darnell H. Cheatham, 22, was arrested Friday and arraigned Monday afternoon on charges of first-degree murder, torture, child abuse, arson and mutilation of a body.

A judge ordered him jailed without bail until his preliminary examination Nov. 1. It wasn't immediately known if Cheatham has a lawyer.

According to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Cheatham took Mariah Smith from her Detroit home in July 2011. 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, authorities say.

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

"This very difficult case was solved due to the diligence and tenacity of Wayne County prosecutors and Wayne County Prosecutor's Office investigators," Worthy said in a statement. "Much of the work was done on their own time to finally bring justice to little Mariah."

First-degree murder under Michigan law carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Cheatham remained silent during the video arraignment other than answering yes when 36th District Court Magistrate Steve Lockhart asked him whether he understood the charges he faced.


Tri-cities realist

Exhibit A, why we need the death penalty. This dirtbag, deserves nothing less, if he is guilty of course.


I can't even think of the torture that would be sufficient to end this person's life. Of all the terrible things I can imagine, if they were all inflicted on this "thing" one after the other, it still isn't enough. I truly trust there is a never ending hell for this, certainly not a man, but something, and that the Devil knows a lot more about pain and suffering than I do. My wish is that the worst of everything be visited on this inexplicable excuse of a life form.


Flush this piece of crap. I'm hoping the scum in prison even find this low life unacceptable and make it a living hell before he spends his eternity there!

If the evidence is overwhelming clear, innocent before proven guilty test my patience. The only good thing is he needs to sweat it out through a trial.

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