Donald Smith, convicted of killing Jacksonville girl Cherish Perrywinkle, asks for new trial

A convicted child killer was back in court on Tuesday, asking for a new trial.

Donald Smith was sentenced to death in 2018 for kidnapping, raping, and murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in 2013.


Smith is arguing his legal team didn’t adequately defend him.

The defense attorney from Smith’s trial more than five years ago took the stand Tuesday morning, facing questions about how she handled jury selection.

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Julie Schlax said Tuesday she was attempting to weed out jurors who might impose the death penalty back in 2018.

On Tuesday, Smith’s attorneys argued she didn’t do enough, including questioning how she handled testimony from Cherish’s mother Rayne Perrywinkle.

Schlax said she made the decision not to object to any part of the testimony and discussed that move with Smith.

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Smith’s new attorneys also asked why they went to trial instead of taking a plea.

Schlax said that was Smith’s decision, adding their ultimate goal at the time was life in prison.

The evidentiary hearing will continue Tuesday afternoon and Action News Jax’s Robert Grant will have the latest starting on CBS47 and FOX30 Action News Jax at 5.

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