Cherish's mother fights for justice, other daughters

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Three years after her daughter, Cherish, was kidnapped and killed, Rayne Perrywinkle is still awaiting justice for that girl's death while fighting to get regain custody of her other two daughters.

Perrywinkle told News4Jax she’s been fighting since Cherish was abducted from a Northside Walmart and murdered. The registered sex offender accused in the crime, Donald Smith, has had his trial on charges of abduction and murder delayed several times. It is currently scheduled for January.

Perrywinkle was at the Duval County Courthouse on Monday after hearing there would be a hearing on the status of her two other daughters, who have been in foster care since shortly after Cherish's death, but she was denied entrance to the courtroom.

"I want to hold on to that little sliver of hope that I’m going to see them again," Perrywinkle said. "I mean, I’m not going down without a fight. I know a lot of people say horrible things about me. They leave messages on my phone because they don’t know. They don’t know what happened; they don’t connect the dots."

Perrywinkle said she has not seen her daughters since March.

"I don’t know where they live, I don’t know where they go to school. We’re not allowed to know anything about each other.  It makes is so incredibly frustrating, so hard," she said.

Perrywinkle started a new job Tuesday. She said that process was not easy because publicity about her daughter's death and her custody battles hurt her chances for employment.

She also needs a job with the flexibility to attend hearings for Smith.

"I have to do this for Cherish. It’s not because I want to be there; I have to be there for Cherish," Perrywinkle said. "I just have doubts this trial is going to come in January because they’ve already canceled it five times.  I just don’t see it."

While the judge is adamant that Smith will go on trial Jan. 17, it could get pushed back again if the state Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of the death penalty.

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