As Donald Smith sits behind bars on charges he kidnapped and killed 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, a man who shared a jail dorm with him during a previous conviction says the longtime sex offender had him fooled.
At the end of May, Smith had just finished serving a 14-month sentence on a misdemeanor charge of attempted kidnapping of another child. While serving that sentence, Smith apparently conned his fellow inmates into thinking he was someone he wasn't.
A man that spend two months only two bunks down from Smith earlier this year at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Montgomery Correctional Center off Lannie Road said he wish he'd known.
"There are probably about 40 bunk beds, give or take, in there, and you've got a man on top and a man on bottom," said the ex-inmate who does not want his name used. "Hiss bunk was two bunks over, so I mean, I could see him every night when I was going to bed and everything."
The former inmate serving time from grand theft says Smith told the other prisoners he was in for drug charges, but because he didn't want them knowing what he was really convicted of. Child sex abusers are sometimes dealt with harshly in jail.
"I wish I had known then what I know now, because I wouldn't have even affiliated with him," said the ex-inmate. "I would've had to let him know how we do it on the Westside when you do stuff like that. That's not right."
The man says he regularly played cards with Smith, who would always share his food and anything else he had with the other inmates.
"He seemed alright in jail. I guess he did a real good, hidden job. He didn't make it sound like he touched kids. He didn't act like he touched kids," he said. "That could've been my little kid, and I'm just not happy with that, and I hope justice is served and he gets what he gets. Now everybody knows what he really is, so he can't hide that anymore."
The man says Smith is probably in isolation right now, which is a safer place for him than if he was in with the general population.
"I promise you the man will get what's coming to him, and he will be praying for that death penalty, I promise you that," said the man who was released from jail in April.
Smith will be arraigned later this month on charges of kidnapping, capital sexual battery and first-degree murder,