Trial delayed for man accused of killing girl

Donald Smith charged with abducting, murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle

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Donald Smith appears in court for a pretrial hearing.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The trial for the man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle last year has been postponed until January.

Donald Smith appeared at a pretrial hearing Wednesday morning. His trial had been set for Oct. 6, but the judge granted a defense motion to delay it to Jan. 20.

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

There are dozens of motions still pending, including several by the defense related to the death penalty, and Smith's lawyer told the judge Wednesday he needed more time to prepare.

There was no objection by the State Attorney's Office.

Smith will be back in court Nov. 4 for a pretrial hearing.

"Absolutely nothing surprises to me," Rayne Perrywinkle, Cherish's mother, said in a statement Wednesday. "We need to be patient until justice is served for my beautiful daughter Cherish."

Prosecutors said Smith abducted Cherish after telling her mother they were going to get something to eat at the McDonald's inside a Northside Walmart. He was caught on surveillance camera leaving the store with the girl and driving away in his van, prosecutors said.

Cherish's body was found the next morning at nearly the same time Smith was stopped in the van and arrested.

Attorney Gene Nichols said there are only a certain number of lawyers in the state who are permitted to handle death penalty cases because there are so many details. He said there is a large amount of litigation that goes into these cases, so it's not surprising to him the trial was delayed.

"There are going to be arguments that will be made, as are made in every death penalty case, and it's the defense's job to make sure any issue thats ever been an issue before it comes up, it's put before the judge so a decision can be made," Nichols said.

He said dozens of motions are typically filed in a death penalty case, and many of those motions challenge the constitutionality of the death penalty. Nichols said it's likely the trial could get postponed yet again.

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