Jurors returned to a Florida courtroom this morning to begin the sentencing phase in the trial of a man convicted of abducting, raping and murdering an eight-year-old girl
On Tuesday, a woman tearfully told jurors Donald Smith tried to kidnap her as she walked to her friend’s house one Sunday morning in 1992, when she was 13 years old. Smith, then aged 36, was later tried and convicted of attempted kidnapping.
The jury took less than 15 minutes last Wednesday to find the 62-year-old guilty of brutally raping and killing Cherish Perrywinkle in 2013.
Jurors returned to court to decide whether Smith should be executed, or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Survivor speaks: Carrie Ann Buck (left) cries telling a Florida jury how convicted child rapist and killer Donald Smith (right) had nearly kidnapped her in 1992, when she was 13 years old
Smith presents his handcuffs to be unlocked by a bailiff so he can sign paperwork early in Tuesday’s court proceedings in the courtroom of Judge Mallory Cooper in Jacksonville, Florida
Carrie Ann Buck, a mother-of-four from Syracuse, New York, told jurors she would ‘never forget his face.’ She recounted hiding in a tubular slide at a playground after he chased her in his van.
‘He told me to get the f*** in the van,’ Buck said from the witness stand through tears, describing the predator’s voice as ‘mean,’ First Coast News reporter Anne Schindler live-tweeted on Tuesday.
Pedophile: The jury heard from Smith’s previous victim, who recounted how he tried to kidnap her in 1992, when she was 13 and he was 36 (pictured in mugshot from his arrest for that crime)
Buck also recalled Smith telling her: ‘I know you’re in there, you little b****, and I’m going to find you.’
Buck added: ‘I knew he was going to hurt me.’
Smith was arrested after he showed up in his van outside Buck’s home a few days after the failed abduction, and her family were able to write down his license plate number, Florida Times-Union reporter Eileen Kelley live-tweeted. He ultimately served six years for the attempted kidnapping.
Defense attorney Charles Fletcher argued that his client is mentally ill and that he is ‘wired differently,’ and noted that ‘sometimes mercy is given to someone who doesn’t deserve it.’
The attorney told the court that his client started showing signs of sexual awareness at the age of five. By the time he was 10, Fletcher said Smith was exhibiting voyeuristic tendencies, and by the age of 20, he was showing signs of being a pedophile.
‘Nobody says “I think I’ll be a pedophile for the rest of my life.” It’s a mental disorder,’ the lawyer told court, reiterating the Smith has a mental disorder that makes it impossible for him to control his impulses, even though he is sane and can tell right from wrong.
Cherish Perrywinkle was found brutally raped and murdered in a creek in June 2013 after Smith abducted her from a Florida mall
Smith lured Cherish Perrywinkle’s cash-strapped mother and sisters to Walmart in June 2013 with promises to buy a McDonald’s meal and new clothing, then left with the girl. Security video showed her skipping out the door behind him. Cherish was never seen alive again.
His DNA was found on the girl’s mutilated body.
In his closing arguments last week, prosecutor Mark Caliel said Cherish ‘endured a nightmare no child should have to endure.’
The State called 19 witnesses but the defense called none, reported Action News Jax.
Smith was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery on a child less than 12 years of age.
This is the moment Walmart monster Donald Smith was found guilty last Wednesday
Rayne Perrywinkle, second left, the mother of Cherish Perrywinkle reacts to the first guilty verdict
Smith had been released from jail three weeks before Cherish’s death, after serving 438 days on felony charges of child abuse and unlawful impersonation of a public employee.
The man had a long criminal history dating back to the 1970s related to lewd and lascivious conduct. He has been a registered sex offender since a 1993 conviction in Duval County for attempted kidnapping and selling obscene materials.
Doctors determined that he met the criteria of a violent sexual predator after arrests in 1999, and he had served prison time and been ordered to get treatment, according to the Florida Times-Union newspaper.
In 2009 he posed as a child welfare worker and asked a child sexually explicit questions on the telephone and was arrested on felony charges, which were later reduced to misdemeanors, the newspaper reported.