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Remembering Cherish: Prosecutors seeking death penalty for Donald Smith

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Updated: 7/03/2013 4:40 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The State Attorney's office is pushing for death, in the kidnapping and murder case involving career criminal and registered sex offender, Donald Smith.

Smith is in jail right now for the murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle. Her family tells Action News, that death is exactly what Donald Smith deserves.

"We cant lose another one," said the pastor at Cherish Perrywinkle's funeral.

It's a desperate plea from the community, seeking justice for 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, a girl's whose life was taken from us in the worst way imaginable.

"I sit here with 32 years of experience and I have chills all over my body speaking about this case right now," said State Attorney, Angela Cory.

There were some chilling details revealed at Tuesday's News Conference. One in particular, was hard for everyone to hear. Little Cherish died of strangulation. Her accused killer, Donald Smith, is now charged with a capital crime punishable by death.

"We received a three-count indictment for murder in the first degree, kidnapping a child under the age of 13, and sexual battery under the age of 12," said prosecutor, Mark Caliel.

As part of the first degree murder charge, Action News asked if the prosecution has evidence of premeditation, after neighbors told us they saw Smith putting toys in his van days before the murder.

"He bought a little stuffed horse and put it right by the driver's dash and I said to my husband...he's doing that to attract kids. That's so obvious," said neighbor, Mary Gagliardi.

We found out premeditation is applicable in Smith's case, but there's still one key piece of evidence investigators still haven't found. Cherish's mother Rayne says her stroller was in Smith's van while they were inside the Walmart, but not when he was arrested.

"It could lead us to add evidence that would be important in this case. There may be a secondary crime scene that we need to investigate," said Caliel.

The stroller is a blue, tandem, Graco model with plaid print. It can been seen being pushed by a woman in a grainy picture that police say is a still shot taken from surveillance video inside the Dollar General store where Cherish Perrywinkle's mother, Rayne, first met Smith Friday evening. A friend of the family confirms to Action News that it is in fact Rayne Perrywinkle in the picture.

If you see the stroller, police are asking that you not touch it or anything around it. Instead, call 911 to report it immediately.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

tlynn - 7/2/2013 9:09 PM
1 Vote
Mom needs to answer some serious questions! Especially considering the fact that she still has 2 little ones at home! I sure hope that DCF is in the loop here!

Theriteway23 - 7/2/2013 6:17 PM
3 Votes
Where is the responsibility of the Mother's actions coming into play? She should be charged with neglect! The mother let her child fall into this saddening fate and not one word of her responsibility is being said. It is our job as parents to protect our children. Did no one have the talk with her about strangers? The mother killed her child! If she would have walked away Cherish would still be alive! Laws need to change for offenders also! This ,an should have been in jail and stayed there for life!

angels072258 - 7/2/2013 5:09 PM
1 Vote
There should not have been a plea deal for Jared Harrell either. I agree 100% Old Dog. Execute him and put him at the top of the list.

Old Dog - 7/2/2013 2:57 PM
3 Votes
When convicted this pile of human waste should be marched out of the courtroom and executed. Keeping animals like him on death row for years and years isn't justice it is a joke and shows just how broken our justice system really is. Then I also blame the district attorney’s office for this little girl’s death, as this animal should have never offered a plea deal the last time he tried to kidnap a child.
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