JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman who testified Tuesday that Donald Smith tried to kidnap her in Jacksonville in 1992 said she would never forget his face.
Kerri-Anne Buck, 37, was the only witness called by the prosecution during the penalty phase of Smith's murder trial.
Smith was convicted last week of kidnapping, sexual battery and first-degree murder in the June 2013 death of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.
UNCUT: Kerri-Anne Buck describes day Donald Smith tried to kidnap her (WARNING: Contains explicit language) | GAVEL-TO-GAVEL: Live video and discussion from Courtroom 406
Buck, who now lives in New York, tearfully testified that when she was 13 years old and living in Jacksonville, Smith tried to kidnap her.
The trauma of it, she said, has remained with her throughout her life and now influences the way she raises her own children.
Buck held back sobs as she pointed out Smith in the courtroom and described the day in September 1992 when he approached her in a van as she walked to a friend's house and tried to convince her to get in. When she refused, he cursed at her and demanded she go with him, she said.
"I knew he was going to hurt me," Buck said, explaining why she was afraid of Smith.
Buck said she ran, making it to her friend's home as Smith chased her in the van. But no one came to the door as she pounded, and she bolted toward a nearby elementary school playground.
Buck said she climbed inside a tube slide and held on for dear life, hiding.
“I was scared. I was slipping. I was so afraid I was going to fall out and he was going to find me,” she said in court, sobbing.
She said she heard Smith's van pull up and he called out that he knew she was in there.
"I'm going to find you," he said.
But eventually he gave up and drove away.
"It seemed like forever," Buck said, recalling the paralyzing fear she felt.
Buck said when she felt it was safe, she ran to a family friend's house nearby, and they called her mother and the police.
Buck said she spotted Smith's van in front of her house in the neighborhood later, and she and her mother were able to follow him to get his license plate number for police.
She said she made eye contact with Smith as they followed him and she realized that he recognized her.
“He looked at me like he was going to kill me," Buck said, crying.
After they gave the license plate number to police, a detective called Buck in to see if she could pick Smith out of a photo lineup.
"I'll never forget his face," Buck said.
Smith eventually was sentenced to six years for the attempted kidnapping.