Suspect in 8-year-old girl's killing appears in court

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Donald Smith, the man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle last year, appeared at a pretrial hearing Wednesday morning.

Attorneys updated Judge Mallory Cooper on the case, saying they have more people they need to interview.

A defense motion to have Florida's death penalty ruled unconstitutional was denied by the judge. Dozens of defense motions are still pending.

Smith's next pretrial is set for Sept. 3. His trial is scheduled for October.

Rayne Perrywinkle, Cherish's mother, was in attendance at Smith's hearing for the second time.

Smith remained silent and was escorted back to jail after the hearing. A Justice Coalition victim's advocate and friend helped Perrywinkle out.

Prosecutors said Smith abducted Cherish after telling her mother they were going to get something to eat at the McDonald's inside a Northside Walmart. He was caught on surveillance camera leaving the store with the girl and driving away in his van, prosecutors said.

Cherish's body was found the next morning at nearly the same time Smith was stopped in the van and arrested.

Perrywinkle spoke Tuesday about what it would mean to get her two surviving daughters back in her custody.

"I could try to move on and make a decent life for ourselves as best that I can," she said.

The state took Destiny and Nevaeh from Perrywinkle a year ago, shortly after their sister Cherish's killing. They're currently living in a temporary foster home until the Department of Children and Families can help find a permanent solution.

Perrywinkle is allowed to see them every Monday for two hours.

"It brightens my day to see Destiny and Nevaeh, yes it does, but it breaks my heart when I have to leave them," she said.

Perrywinkle said she's doing the best she can to get through this nightmare her life has turned into. As the trial creeps up, she'll have to rehash the painful day of her daughter's disappearance and the graphic details leading up to her killing, something she can never really get out of her head. She just hopes she can have her other girls back soon.

"They want me to come home. They want to be with me," Perrywinkle said. "They miss me. I miss them. And I want to be in their lives. And none of this should have happened."