Accused child killer tells his mom he's ready to die

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Documents obtained from the state attorney's office includes a shocking statement from the man accused of abducting, raping and killing 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle: Donald Smith says execution would be "simple, happy and peaceful."

Court records show Smith made that statement to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives after being charged with murder. A conviction could end with a sentence to death row.

Other documents provide more detail of the first hours of the search for Cherish in early June, and when her body was found and Smith was arrested.

While he was first photographed after being taken into custody, an investigator said, "He told me to call his mother to have her retain attorney, Ann Fennell, for his defense; and that he wanted his reading glasses.  On the to jail, he said, "Tell my mother don't call Ann Fennell. They're going to kill me anyway. There is no sense spending the money."

The reports say Smith also talked about his drug use, and that he was coming down from a crack cocaine high the night before.

"It surprises me that he would make statements such as this," said Gene Nichols, an attorney not associated with the case. "Now, whether or not it comes into evidence at a trial, that's a different story. Clearly this man has mental health issues. We know that by the crime he allegedly committed."

But Smith's most surprising statement was made during a jail visit with his mother. Officers who listened to a recording of the two talking say Smith wanted his mother to get him a DSM-4 book -- a book that highlights psychiatric problems. Smith said he could use that to find out what level he needs to qualify for treatment.

"It's a one shot deal. I need to know what I have," Smith told his mom.

In that same conversation Smith told his mother how he couldn't go to prison because he knew he would be raped and murdered there. He talked about how if he was on death row, his death would be simple, happy and peaceful.

"Realistically speaking, this may be the only time we see this statement," Nichols said. "The court is going to have to determine if this statement is an admission."

Other discovery material released by the state attorney lists evidence that was collected at the various scenes, including dirt samples from Smith's shoes and clothes to link to match it to the wetlands off Broward Road where police found Cherish's body.

The documents also reflect officers at the scene saying Rayne Perrywinkle, Cherish's mother, at first did not seem like a parent with a missing child. That changed when they saw Smith in surveillance video leaving the Walmart with the girl.

Smith is next scheduled to be in court for a motions hearing on Jan. 6.  His trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in early May.

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