Deliberations have begun in the murder trial for 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle. Now, a Florida jury will decide the fate of 61-year-old Donald Smith who is accused of kidnapping, raping and killing Perrywinkle. He faces the death penalty if he is found guilty, reports The Washington Post. He has pleaded not guilty.
Today, (Wednesday, Feb. 14) Prosecutor Mark Caliel said: “He [Smith] made her [Perrywinkle] feel safe with his lies and deception and then he preyed upon her. That little girl had to endure a nightmare no child should have to endure. If you have anger inside of you, it’s not because of what I said or [State Attorney Melissa] Nelson said. It’s because of what you saw. It’s because of what he did.”
This week, jurors were shown horrifying autopsy photographs of the child’s body, which caused jurors to cringe and look away in disgust. The images were so shocking they made even the medical examiner cry.
Smith is accused of preying on the Perrywinkle family when he spotted the girl’s mother and her three children while they shopped at Family Dollar earlier in the day. She then lured them to a Walmart, located ten minutes away, under the false guise of being generous. He claimed he’d buy the girls clothing with a gift card. Later that day, Perrywinkle’s body was found half naked and shoved under a fallen tree in a marshy area near Jacksonville.
In closing arguments, the prosecution said that Smith asked a Dollar General assistant manager if they sold adult magazines before spotting Perrywinkle.
“He saw that she [the mother] was down on her luck and money was tight. She’s debating whether to buy or not buy a $7 dress at Dollar General. Sometimes in this world, we like to think that there is goodness in man. And that day, Rayne Perrywinkle hoped that his intentions were true and pure,” Caliel said.
He went on to say that Perrywinkle is crying from the grave.
“This defendant took from that little girl everything that is innocent and pure, and then he took her life. Now it’s time to hold him accountable for what he did.”
[Photo: Florida Department of Law Enforcement]