Trial to start in 2011 abduction, murder of 5-year-old girl in Detroit

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DETROIT — Trial is scheduled to start in the case of a Detroit man accused of abducting, raping and killing his girlfriend's 5-year-old niece.

Darnell Cheatham is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in the death of Mariah Smith, whose burned remains were found in a vacant house in 2011.

Court records show more than two dozen witnesses could be called. Jury selection starts Monday. Defense attorney Kareem Johnson says Cheatham maintains his innocence.

The trial is in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin.

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