breaking news

Trump says he's coming to Florida 'very soon'

Donald Smith found guilty in 2013 rape, murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle


Jurors took just minutes to find Donald Smith, 61, guilty Wednesday of abducting, raping and killing 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle after luring her away from her family at a Florida Walmart in 2013.

>> Read more trending news

Jurors found Smith guilty of murder, kidnapping and sexual battery 14 minutes after the case was sent to jurors.

Cherish was abducted from a Walmart in 2013 after Smith persuaded her mother that he would buy the poor family some clothes with a gift card. Smith had introduced himself as a good Samaritan to the mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, at a discount store earlier in the day, saying his wife would meet them at the Walmart and bring the card.

“He saw that (Perrywinkle’s mother) was down on her luck and money was tight,” prosecutor Mark Caliel said Wednesday during closing arguments. “(Smith) made her feel safe with his lies and deception, and then he preyed upon her.” 

 >> On ActionNewsJax.com: Six things we learned after two days of the Cherish Perrywinkle trial 

The wife never showed, and Smith instead lured Cherish away from her mother and two sisters as they shopped. Surveillance footage showed the girl following Smith out of the store and getting into his white van.

“He looks like a harmless old man. Little did (Rayne Perrywinkle) know what lurked beneath the surface,” Caliel said. “Sometimes in this world, we like to think that there is goodness in man. And that day, Rayne Perrywinkle hoped that his intentions were true and pure.”

Cherish's body was found in a Jacksonville creek, and when police arrested Smith his pants were wet. Also, police say his DNA was found all over her body.

“That little girl had to endure a nightmare no child should have to endure,” Caliel said.

Caliel replayed a recording Wednesday of Smith speaking with a fellow inmate at the Duval County Jail two years after Cherish’s murder in which he could be heard talking about a group of girls who are 12 or 13 years old.

"That's right up my alley, right there, that's my target area," he could be heard saying. "I'd like to run into her at Walmart."

Caliel also reminded the jury about autopsy photos that were shown in the courtroom Tuesday and left some jurors in tears.

>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Graphic testimony details moments before Cherish Perrywinkle's death

“Those images will forever be a part of you. They will forever be a part of your memory, burned into your memory,” Caliel said. “I want you to remember what he did to her. How he strangled the life from her body. Three minutes. … That’s how long it took, at a minimum, to take her life, while she fought.”

The penalty phase will begin Tuesday.

The Associated Press and the Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Original 'Kiss Me, Kate' star Patricia Morison dead at 103
Original 'Kiss Me, Kate' star Patricia Morison dead at 103

Patricia Morison, who played the shrewish lead role in the 1948 Cole Porter Broadway musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” died Sunday, Variety reported. She was 103.  Morison also appeared on stage with Yul Brynner in “The King and I” and starred in films such as “The Song of Bernadette.” She also appeared as Basil...
Wellington deals with ‘exceptional’ rainfall, water levels expected to rise
Wellington deals with ‘exceptional’ rainfall, water levels expected to rise

As rain continues to pound Palm Beach County, Wellington is working to mitigate the effects as days of storms add up.  The village received more than 4 inches of rain from Saturday afternoon through Sunday, Wellington said in a news release. “The village has received an exceptional amount of rainfall over the last four weeks,&rdquo...
LATEST: Man charged in Boynton drive-by that injures teen gets $20,000 bond
LATEST: Man charged in Boynton drive-by that injures teen gets $20,000 bond

An 18-year-old boy who allegedly shot and injured a teen in Boynton Beach Wednesday night was given a $20,000 bond by a Palm Beach County Court judge Saturday morning. Cleevens Altiner was arrested Friday and faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and aggravated battery with a firearm. The judge ordered a $10...
Accused Santa Fe shooter won't get death penalty -- and could get paroled someday 
Accused Santa Fe shooter won't get death penalty -- and could get paroled someday 

Even though Dimitrios Pagourtzis was charged as an adult in the mass shooting at a southeastern Texas high school Friday, he will not face the death penalty and could even be eligible for parole someday, the Houston Chronicle reported. Pagourtzis, 17, a high school junior, admitted to the shootings that killed 10 and wounded 13, according to court...
Trump demands Justice Department probe claims of spying on his 2016 campaign
Trump demands Justice Department probe claims of spying on his 2016 campaign

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he will demand that the Justice Department investigate whether it or the FBI spied on his 2016 presidential campaign for political reasons, CNN reported. "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated...
More Stories