Sunday, 23 September, 2018


Medical examiner, jurors break down in tears during girl's murder trial

MANDATORY CREDIT Donald Smith enters the Florida courtroom during his murder trial this week
Conrad Doyle | 15 February, 2018, 18:39

Cherish Perrywinkle [Photo: Duvall County Sheriff's Office]"He (Donald Smith) made her feel safe with his lies and deception and then he preyed upon her", Caliel said.

Rao listed the injuries Cherish sustained before she was murdered.

During the trial for the man accused of kidnapping, raping, and brutally murdering an 8-year-old in Jacksonville, details of the killing brought the jurors to tears.

She said Smith saw that she was struggling to buy her kids clothes and that he waited outside for them and offered to take them to a nearby Walmart and make purchases with a gift card. Cherish's mother called 911 after she began to suspect Smith had left with the girl.

She told the Florida court: 'She had so much trauma, the anatomy was totally distorted by the injury she suffered.

Because of the massive coverage of Cherish's death, Smith's defense team expressed doubt a fair jury could be seated in Jacksonville.

Smith's attorneys had asked for the trial to be moved, saying a fair jury was impossible because of widespread local media coverage.

MANDATORY CREDIT
Rayne Perrywinkle the mother of Cherish Perrywinkle reacts to guilty verdict

The images were so disturbing that the medical examiner giving evidence about the injuries sustained looked so traumatised that she needed a break in proceedings.

The little girl's half-naked body was found outside a church the following day.

Jurors clasped hands over their mouthswhen they saw the photos of the young girl.

The second day of the trial against Smith was an extremely hard one for many jurors to watch. The jury is now being selected.

But those who suffered through two days of sometimes brutal testimony and evidence this week, as well as those watching online coverage, learned several things about the 61-year-old defendant, his crimes and this city.

According to records obtained by PEOPLE, Smith has a long criminal history. In 1993, he was sentenced to five years in prison for the attempted kidnapping of a minor. Later, he was convicted in for posing as a member of the Department of Children and Family services so he could get access to a child. He is registered as a sex offender. He has pleaded not guilty. He spent a year in jail and was released just three weeks before Cherish was found dead. Defense lawyer Julie Schlax said the prosecution's opening statement was created to "anger" the jury, and instead told jurors to parse through the evidence, and make the state meet the burden of proof. "What we are asking you to do is to ask the state of Florida to live up to the burdens of proof, because they share it alone".

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