Duval County

Hearing to determine if child killer gets new trial cancelled, rescheduled for January

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE, 12/4/23, 10:32 a.m.- Donald Smith’s main attorney resigned over the weekend, and his defense told the judge they weren’t ready to proceed. Smith’s hearing was rescheduled for Jan. 16 at 10 a.m.


A convicted child killer is asking for a new trial.


On Monday, there will be a court hearing for 67-year-old Donald Smith, who is on death row. The court is giving Smith an “evidentiary hearing” for claims that during his 2018 trial, Smith’s legal team didn’t adequately defend him.

Surveillance video from June 21, 2013, shows Donald Smith following Rayne Perrywinkle and her children into the Walmart on Lem Turner Road. He had befriended them and promised to get them food.

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JSO said surveillance video showed Smith leaving the store with Cherish Perrywinkle, who was found dead the next day behind Highlands Baptist Church. JSO said Smith raped and killed Cherish, and his DNA profile matched the DNA found on Cherish’s body.

Smith’s trial took place in February 2018, and it took the jury only 14 minutes to find him guilty of the child’s kidnapping, murder and sexual battery. Three months later, he was sentenced to death.

When asked about the jury’s initial decision and the evidentiary hearing, former juror Paul Hinson said, “I wouldn’t want 14 other people to go through this again.”

Read: ‘Burn in hell:’ Convicted child rapist and murderer could be up for a new trial

If a judge decides that Smith’s council was ineffective, he could get a whole new trial.

Court starts at 10 a.m. You can count on Action News Jax to bring you the latest.

Read: Judge: ‘May God have mercy on your soul,’ Donald Smith sentenced to death

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