• New documents track Donald Smith's criminal past to his teens

    By: Catherine Varnum


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Action News has obtained new documents in the Donald Smith case. 

    There are 73 new pages, showing arrest after arrest. Donald Smith, a convicted sex offender, spent much of his adult life in trouble with the law. 

    According to the new documents just obtained by Action News, Smith's criminal history began 1974. At 17 years old, Smith was arrested for siphoning gas. Just three months later he was caught driving a stolen vehicle. We found other arrests for grand theft, violation of probation, a high-speed chase in a stolen car, and unauthorized use of a sheriff's office insignia.

    "It's just a failure of the system," said attorney Dale Carson. Carson was with Action News in the hours after Cherish Perrywinkle was kidnapped, and when Smith was arrested. "He should have been a sex predator," said Carson. 

    Smith had convictions for crimes done in 1977, 1992, and 2009. They include allegations of exposing himself to kids, trying to lure kids into his van, and even posing as a Department of Children and Families worker to perform a rape kit on a child. But even after arrests spanning 40 years, the registered sex offender was allowed to go free. 

    "I don't know why he fell through the cracks," said Carson. 

    Smith is facing a murder charge for the death of Cherish Perrywinkle. His trial is scheduled for May.

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