Defense lawyers want to show photo of Cherish Perrywinkle to jury

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer, Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Defense attorneys for Donald Smith want to show potential jurors a photo of Cherish Perrywinkle, the 8-year-old Jacksonville girl their client is charged with abducting, raping and killing, court documents show.

Attorney Julie Schlax, who represents Smith, filed a motion Jan. 2 to present Perrywinkle's image during jury selection to help vet jurors before the high-profile trial in the hopes of finding those capable of making an informed decision about Smith's fate.

A separate motion to sequester jurors in the case was filed Friday.

READ: Timeline of Cherish Perrywinkle's abduction

Smith, 61, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and capital sexual battery on a child under the age of 12 in the 2013 strangling of Perrywinkle. He faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of the murder charge.

"The defense anticipates that inflammatory photographs of the child victim will be shown to the jury at both the guilty and penalty stages of the trial," a copy of the motion stated, noting that Smith has a right to be tried by a jury that can "impose life as well as death" based on the facts of the case.

Smith is accused of befriending Perrywinkle's mother, Rayne, at a Dollar General store in June 2013 and, with promises to buy them food and clothes, persuading the family to go with him to the Walmart on Lem Turner Road.

After spending a couple of hours inside the Walmart together, Smith offered to buy hamburgers and walked with Cherish to the McDonald's at the front of the store, police said. Instead of stopping to buy food, police said, Smith walked Cherish outside and the two of them got into his van.

Rayne Perrywinkle grew suspicious when the pair did not return and dialed 911. Police later issued an Amber Alert for the 8-year-old girl that came to an end when the child's body was discovered near a tidal creek of the Trout River off Broward Road.

Around the same time, an officer working the scene of a traffic crash on Interstate 95 recognized Smith's van and called it in. Police took Smith into custody after they cornered him near where I-95 meets I-10.

Smith's trial was repeatedly put on hold due to the controversy over Florida's death penalty procedure, which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Last March, the Florida legislature passed a new law requiring a unanimous recommendation from a jury before a judge could hand down the death penalty.

 

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