A Jacksonville man was sentenced to pay the ultimate price last week after a Duval County jury convicted him of rape and murder.
In February, Donald James Smith was convicted in the 2013 rape and murder of Cherish Perrywinkle, an 8-year-old girl authorities say Smith lured away from her mother with the promise of buying her a cheeseburger.
The jury took just a quarter of an hour to convict Smith, who had been known to the state as a sex offender for many years. Smith had been out of custody less than a month before allegedly carrying out the acts for which he is now heading to Death Row.
Smith’s defense team presented no defense to the actions of which he’s accused. Rather, the defense argued that significant brain injuries he had sustained in past years robbed him of his impulse control, essentially making him unable to prevent himself from carrying out acts of sex and violence.
However, the argument fell on deaf ears in the jury box. Rather than opting for the lesser penalty of life in prison, jurors took into account Smith’s prior history as a felon, his actions to cover for the crimes he’d already committed, and the overall brutality of the crime and opted instead to send him to the death chamber.
The 61-year-old joins 345 men and 3 women currently incarcerated in Florida who have been sentenced to be put to death by the state. His case will automatically be reviewed by Florida’s Supreme Court before it is carried out. Until then, Smith will be housed at either Florida State Prison or Union Correctional Institution, both of which are in Raiford.