At his first appearance in court one day after Donald Smith was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and capital sexual battery, the man accused killing an 8-year-old girl was spit on by another defendant in the courtroom.
Prosecutors say Smith abducted Cherish Perrywinkle from a Northside Walmart two weeks ago. Smith was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 the next morning. Police, acting on a tip, found Cherish's body a few minutes later behind a Northside church.
At his arraignment Wednesday afternoon, Desa King, a habitual traffic offender leaving the courtroom after appearing on a hit-and-run charge, spit in Smith's face as he sat waiting for his case to be called.
The other inmates in the courtroom gasped, but Smith had almost no reaction.
Judge Emmett Ferguson, who missed it, asked a police officer what happened, then addressed King.
"Let the system take care of him," Ferguson said. "I know everyone in this courtroom has feelings about it. You'll get yourselves in trouble."
King (pictured, right) could be charged with misdemeanor assault for the incident, but it was not known if that will happen in this case.
"This is going to be a difficult case in the sense that it is an emotional case, but we still stay focused on our core mission of prosecuting this defendant, Donald Smith," State Attorney Angela Corey said after Tuesday's indictment.
Smith's arraignment was set for July 24. He is being held without bond.
The prosecution says it expects to seek the death penalty if Smith is convicted.