The Florida Supreme Court will hear an appeal Wednesday from a man convicted of abducting, raping and murdering an 8-year-old girl he lured with promises to buy her impoverished family food and clothing.
Donald Smith was sentenced to death in 2018 for the murder of Cherish Perrywinkle. The jury took less than 15 minutes to convict the now 64-year-old Smith and unanimously recommended that he be executed for the crimes.
Perrywinkle was abducted from a Walmart in Jacksonville in 2013 after Smith, who had befriended the girl’s mother, promised to buy cheeseburgers for her family. The child’s body was later found in a nearby creek.
Smith’s attorney said the trial should have been moved out of Duval County due to heavy media publicity and said the judge made a mistake denying the defense's change of venue request.
But state prosecutors noted there were four years between the crime and the jury selection, as well as a pool of hundreds of thousands of eligible jurors to choose from.
Smith's appeal also argues that graphic autopsy photos of the little girl should not have been allowed during trial and only served to shock the jury.
During Smith’s sentencing phase, experts testified that he is a psychopath who lacks control over his impulses. Doctors also described Smith as callous, uncaring, manipulative and lacking empathy.
The appeal has outraged some of the jurors that found Smith guilty.
“It angers me because I felt like when we went through our trial like I said, I thought it was a done deal,” juror Juanita Klasel told News4Jax.
The girl's mother Rayne Perrywinkle said in a statement that taxpayers shouldn't bear the responsibility of paying for life in prison.
“He is where he needs to be. He needs to stay there until he’s executed," she said. "Death should mean death. Not a life sentence."