JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Graphic doesn't begin to describe some of the evidence and testimony presented in the trial of Donald Smith, who’s charged in the 2013 kidnapping, rape and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.
Tuesday’s proceedings proved no different as jurors heard alarming recorded conversations between Smith, 61, and a fellow inmate in a neighboring isolation cell in June 2015, two years after his arrest.
The recording centered on a conversation that picked up as Smith, who gazed at the table in front of him in court and swiveled in his chair, commented on young girls touring the Duval County jail:
SMITH: “You know how old they are? About 12."
INMATE: “You said they were 12?”
SMITH: “Yeah. That’s right up my alley right there."
SMITH: "That's my target area right there. That's what I go after."
INMATE: "Well then you would have fun with that one..."
SMITH: "I'd like to run into her at Walmart."
Incidentally, it was a Walmart store on Jacksonville’s Northside where Cherish Perrywinkle was last seen alive June 21, 2013. Smith drove the girl, her mother and sisters to the store that night after befriending them at a dollar store and offering to take them shopping.
As the hours wore on, Smith offered to get dinner from a McDonald’s located just inside the store, the girl’s mother told investigators. Cherish went with him, following Smith to the front of the store and then out of the front door as he left the building entirely.
Cherish’s mother, Rayne, panicked when the pair did not return, and dialed 911. Police found Smith’s van on Interstate 95 the next morning and took him into custody. They later went to a Rutgers Road church where the van had been spotted. There, hidden under some brush in a nearby marsh, police found the girl's battered body.
Testimony in Smith’s trial ended Tuesday afternoon when prosecutors rested and the defense, after an unsuccessful motion to acquit, followed suit. Closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday morning.