Donald Smith’s appeal rejected in murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the conviction and death sentence of Donald James Smith, who raped and murdered 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinklle after kidnapping the girl from a Jacksonville Walmart in 2013.
Florida Supreme Court considers whether to grant Donald Smith a new trial
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One of the most high-profile child murder cases in Jacksonville history is back in the headlines as an attorney representing convicted killer Donald Smith argued before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday that Smith should get a new trial. Kuritz said the prosecutor violated the “golden rule” that jurors can’t be asked to put themselves in the victim’s shoes when she said: “And from the grave, she is crying out to you: ‘Donald Smith raped me. Donald Smith sodomized me. “The state openly admits that these autopsy photographs of a heinous, atrocious and cruel murder are heinous. Walmart surveillance video shows Cherish walking out front door with Donald Smith.
Florida Supreme Court takes up appeal in Cherish Perrywinkle murder case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments this week about whether a man sentenced to death in the slaying of an 8-year-old girl should receive a new trial. Attorney H. Kate Bedell wrote in a brief this year at the Supreme Court that Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper erred in denying a change of venue. While at Walmart, Smith said he would buy the family cheeseburgers at a McDonald’s at the store but left with Cherish Perrywinkle in a van. Smith’s appeal to the Supreme Court seeks a new trial and raises a series of issues, including arguing that the circuit judge erred by allowing autopsy photos of Cherish Perrywinkle to be used during the trial. “So I hope to God and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t allow that appeal.”News4Jax reached out to the mother and father of Cherish Perrywinkle.
5-year-old's disappearance a chilling reminder of past cases
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Almost a week after a 5-year-old Jacksonville girl was reported missing, human remains were found during a multi-state search that led investigators to Alabama. Perhaps the most well-known case is that of Maddie Clifton, an 8-year-old girl reported missing from the Southside neighborhood in 1998. Her body was found underneath the water bed of Josh Phillips, her 14-year-old neighbor, days later. Another high-profile case unfolded just two years later in 2009 when 5-year-old HaLeigh Cummings was reported missing from her Putnam County home. The girl's body was found two days later in a Georgia landfill some 50 miles away.
Rayne Perrywinkle: 'I just wish Cherish was here to see it'
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mother of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle was concerned Wednesday morning when Judge Mallory Cooper first sentenced Donald Smith to life in prison for kidnapping and rape. When Cooper announced Smith would be put to death for murder, Rayne Perrywinkle burst into tears. I just wish Cherish was here to see it," Perrywinkle said. UNCUT: Rayne Perrywinkle reacts to sentenceCherish was kidanpped from her mother at a Northside Walmart store in June 2013, raped and strangled. Earlier this year Smith was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing Cherish, and a jury unanimously recommended he be sentenced to death.
Judge sentences Cherish Perrywinkle's killer to death
DOCUMENTS: Donald Smith's death sentence | Judge's scoresheet | Cost of prosecutionCircuit Judge Mallory Cooper, who delayed her retirement to see the case through, sentenced Donald Smith to death for the 8-year-old girl’s murder in a widely anticipated ruling that upheld the unanimous recommendation from a jury. … Donald James Smith, may God have mercy on your soul." Rayne Perrywinkle hugs State Attorney Melissa NelsonWhile Nelson and Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel expressed relief afterward, neither celebrated. The outcome also came as a relief to juror Paul Hinson, who was glad Cooper sided with the jury's recommendation. Despite Wednesday's ruling, the case is far from over because Smith is eligible for appeals down the road.
Prosecutors describe emotional impact of Cherish Perrywinkle case
WATCH: Donald Smith prosecutors forever changedShe still remembers the moment she first heard the name "Donald Smith." "I asked Mark if he would be so kind to let me join him in trying the case," Nelson recounted. By the time I responded to the scene, Donald Smith was taken into custody on (Interstate) 95, shortly after I arrived." I did have some concern going in as to what the media impact would have on the prospective jurors," Caliel said. Now, as Smith waits to learn his sentence, the prosecutors reflected on how the case has changed their lives.
Juror describes how Donald Smith trial changed his life
"That was pretty much the hardest part of the trial," Hinson said. Hinson said the trial changed his life, describing how certain words will forever trigger memories of Cherish, as well as Smith. Or is that going to be the next Donald Smith taking somebody out of the door." WATCH: Donald Smith unemotional as jury verdict is readHe went on to talk about Smith's demeanor during the trial. RELATED: 4 things beyond a verdict we learned in Donald Smith trial | Who was Cherish Perrywinkle before Donald Smith cut her life short?
No witnesses called to defend Donald Smith in child murder trial
Cooper asked Smith if he was certain he didn't want to take the stand in his own defense, which he has a right to do. As the state's first defense witness, Rayne Perrywinkle glared at Donald Smith as she began her testimony. 'No one noticed'Surveillance footage from the store caught the image of Smith and Cherish exiting, the girl skipping out behind him. Schlax planned to cross-examine Perrywinkle, but after the mother's testimony, Smith told his attorneys not to ask her any questions. Criminal historyBefore his arrest for Cherish's death, Smith had a long criminal history dating back to the 1970s related to lewd and lascivious conduct.
Murdered 8-year-old's mom tearfully recalls night she met Donald Smith
A Dollar General manager, who was working as a clerk the night Perrywinkle met Smith, later testified that Smith had asked to buy adult magazines at the store before noticing Perrywinkle struggling to afford clothes for her children. Perrywinkle recalled what Smith told her as she walked out the front door. Perrywinkle testified Smith reassured her that he meant them no harm. "I don’t want her to have to go through anything that she does not want to," Smith told Cooper. Schlax indicated her team would be questioning Perrywinkle, but Smith later declined to have them cross-examine her.
78 potential jurors remaining open to death penalty if Donald Smith is convicted
All of the 78 potential jurors remaining in the pool said they would be able to sentence him to death if they though it was appropriate. Caliel's last request Thursday of the potential jurors: Describe the death penalty in one word. The potential jurors range in age from 20s to 70s. If Smith is convicted of murder, kidnapping and sexual battery, prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty for him. That fact has played a role for some jurors who cited their religious beliefs that are opposed to the death penalty.
Donald Smith jury pool narrows to 80 in high-profile child murder case
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The pool of potential jurors who will decide Donald Smith's fate has been narrowed to 80, despite difficulties finding people who had not already made up their minds about the accused child killer. The charges have prompted emotional responses from some in the jury pool, which started with hundreds of people Monday. Ninety of those potential jurors were removed for cause. One potential juror on Wednesday said that he already believed Smith was guilty and that “he should be killed. He was dropped from the jury pool.
300 potential jurors in pool to hear Donald Smith trial
If Smith is convicted of murder, kidnapping and sexual battery, prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty for him. The first of 300 potential jurors in the trial were in the courtroom Monday morning to be briefed on the process, which includes them filling out questionnaires. “Unless they can prove something beforehand, those motions will be denied until they get into the middle of a jury trial,” Nichols said. “I’ve already done some training in the courtroom,” Perrywinkle said. Perrywinkle said she wants the death penalty for Smith and believes he will get a unanimous jury vote.