In Minutes, Jury Convicts Man of Florida Girl's Murder, Rape

Donald Smith posed as good Samaritan for poor family to get close to Cherish Perrywinkle, 8
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 15, 2018 7:24 PM CST
In Minutes, Jury Convicts Man of Florida Girl's Murder, Rape
Defendant Donald Smith enters the courtroom for the start of the second day of his trial for the rape and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 in Jacksonville, Fla.   (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

It took less than 15 minutes Wednesday for a Florida jury to convict a 61-year-old man of abducting, raping, and murdering an 8-year-old girl, the AP reports. The Jacksonville courtroom had just gone into recess after the judge read instructions to the jurors when everyone quickly returned. A decision was in: unanimous guilty verdicts against Donald Smith in the crimes against Cherish Perrywinkle. 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. Instead he lured Cherish away from her mother and into his van in the Walmart parking lot.

"He made her feel safe through his lies and deception," prosecutor Mark Caliel said. "And then he preyed upon her. He drove her out of that parking lot of the Walmart to where no eyes could see and no ears could hear." Cherish's battered body was found in a Jacksonville creek. When police arrested Smith his pants were wet. Later, technicians found his DNA all over her body. The jury was shown gruesome photographs of Cherish's body. While testifying about the girl's injuries the city's chief medical examiner had to interrupt her testimony because she became too emotional while talking about it. Caliel told the jurors they would never forget the images they were forced to see. "They will forever be a part of your memory. Burned into your memory," he said. Smith faces a possible death sentence.

(More child murder stories.)

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