Fla. Supreme Court hears convicted killer's second appeal

Lawyer argues Joseph Smith should have been allowed to question jurors

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Ten years ago this past Saturday, the kidnapping of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia was captured on a car wash security camera.

Carlie's convicted killer, Joseph Smith, had his appeal heard Wednesday by the Florida Supreme Court, and the appeal was as unusual as the murder 10 years ago.

The Florida Supreme Court heard Smith's second appeal. His lawyer argued Smith should have been allowed to question jurors to see if they did something improper.

Even the battle-tested justices were surprised.

The hearing lasted just half of the allotted time, also unheard of in death appeals.

Afterwards, attorney Robert Strain said the legs of any appeal were cut from under him when Smith led police to Carlie's body before ever being indicted.

Smith's lawyer is banking on coming federal appeal, in which he'll argue he ought to be allowed to cross-examine the chemist who analyzed Smith's DNA.

"If a DNA expert testifies in court about the lab tests, he has to be the one who conducted the lab tests, not some supervisor reading it," said Strain. "So it's a complicated case."

The court sent a clear signal it wasn't buying Smith's arguments, which moves Smith one step closer to his execution.

Smith's attorney did raise five other issues in briefs filed with the court. All contend the death penalty is unconstitutional because of jury instructions, lethal injection procedures or it violates an inmate's rights. All have been previously dismissed by the court.

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