Man accused of killing 8-year-old withdraws motion to sequester jury

Donald Smith set for trial Feb. 5 in rape, murder case

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl decided Thursday that he doesn't care if jury that will try him is sequestered or not.

Donald Smith's attorneys had filed a motion to have the jury sequestered the moment they are chosen in the 61-year-old's trial, which is set to begin next month.

But Smith changed his mind Thursday and had his attorneys drop that motion and another that had requested a change of venue.

Smith is accused of killing 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in 2013.

READ: Timeline of Cherish Perrywinkle's abduction

Smith's attorney said more motions could be filed soon, because they are concerned about Smith getting a fair trial.

“It is our position that based on the amount of pre-trial publicity this case has received and continues to receive that unfortunately … we will not be able to panel a jury that will truly afford Mr. Smith of his constitutional right to a trial,” Smith's attorney said in court Thursday.

Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case, believes Smith's attorneys will have a hard time getting the case moved. 

“There is no question that if this case does proceed to trial, the attorney is going to try and get it moved out of Duval County,” said Nichols, a partner with Nichols and Pina. “The main reason is because of the negative publicity that has been around this case since Day 1. (That) is going to make it, from the defense standpoint, they believe very difficult to pick a jury.”

But Nichols said Smith won't have a chance at getting the case moved to another county without proof. 

“Once they are picking a jury and continue to have jurors over and over again who say the press has negatively affected me -- that's when you will potentially up and move a trial,” Nichols said.

A trial date has been set for Smith seven times. The next is Feb. 5.

Smith will be back in court Jan. 22 as his attorneys discuss more motions with the state.

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