Konesha Smith, mother of Mariaha, speaks with the media following the preliminary exam for Darnell Cheatham. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Detroit — The preliminary examination for the 22-year-old man charged in the torture, rape and murder of the 5-year-old niece of his girlfriend set to start Friday was postponed until later this month.
The examination scheduled before 36th District Court Judge Alicia Jones-Coleman was delayed because Darnell Cheatham was not appointed an attorney until Friday .
Cheatham was arraigned Oct. 21 in the killing of Mariha Smith in July 2011. Mariha’s charred body was found lying on top of a mattress inside a home in the 2900 block of Waverly.
His preliminary examination has been rescheduled for Nov. 15.
While the delay was a disappointment for the family they expressed satisfaction say py Cheatham has been arrested. The girl’s relatives were in the courtroom at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice where Cheatham, wearing a yellow jail uniform, was brought in.
“I want to thank God that they finally got him,” said Konesha Smith, Mariha’s mother. “They got enough (evidence) to lock him up.”
Smith warned other parents to be careful about who their children are surrounded by nomatter how close the person is to the family.
The child’s grandmother, Diane Henry, agreed saying “parents keep your kids close to you.”
Mariha had been last seen sleeping in the front room of her family’s home on Burlingame around 3:30 a.m. July 24 — a few miles from where her body was found.
Later that morning, the child was reported missing by her mom. A few hours later a fire was reported in the Waverly Street home.
A supporter of Cheatham shouted after the hearing Friday that Cheatham “got railroaded.”