Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016
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Detroit man charged in abduction, rape and killing of 5-year-old girl found with crushed skull

DETROIT — Prosecutors have filed charges against a Detroit man they say abducted, raped and killed, then burned the body of a 5-year-old girl.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 22-year-old Darnell H. Cheatham is being arraigned today on charges of first-degree murder, torture, child abuse, arson and mutilation of a body.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Cheatham took Mariah Smith from her Detroit home July 24. Authorities say 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.

It wasn’t immediately known if Cheatham has a lawyer.

Prosecutors say Cheatham was the boyfriend of Mariah’s aunt.

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

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