Cherish Perrywinkle murder: Judge denies motion by convicted child killer Donald Smith for new trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A judge denied a motion for a new trial for a convicted child killer on death row.

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


The 67-year-old Smith argued that his defense team didn’t adequately defend him during his trial and was granted an evidentiary hearing, which took place on Jan. 16 and 17 of this year.

During the hearing, Smith’s new defense questioned why his former attorney, Julie Schlax, didn’t question Cherish’s mother Rayne Perrywinkle about her testimony on the stand, her screening of potential jurors during jury selection and why she didn’t take a plea deal for her client. They also questioned the psychologist hired by the defense during the trial, arguing that he didn’t adequately portray Smith’s mental state.

Read: Jacksonville man accused of raping, killing 8-year-old asking for new trial

The state argued that Smith never had an issue with his attorney previously, citing appreciative comments he made toward Schlax many times after the trial. They also mentioned that Smith chose not to take a plea deal and told Schlax at the last minute not to cross-examine Rayne Perrywinkle.

On Monday, the judge gave a final decision and denied Smith’s request for a new trial, citing his arguments that his council was inadequate were insufficient. Smith now has until June 12 to file for an appeal.

Read: Remembering Cherish Perrywinkle: 10 years since Jacksonville girl was kidnapped, raped, killed

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