A medical examiner, fought tears today as graphic details surrounding the rape and murder of 8-year Cherish Perrywinkle were presented in a courtroom of Florida.
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Valerie Rao said during the second day of trial. “I have to take a break. Can I have five minutes?”
Donald Smith, 61, is accused of the murder of Cherish Perrywinkle after befriending the family in a store. He pleaded not guilty and faces a possible death sentence if he is convicted.
During today’s trials, several jurors were overwhelmed by emotion as the court was shown photos of the autopsy.
Monday, Rayne Perrywinkle, the 8-year-old’s mother, was the first of 12 witnesses called to the bar.
Smith, of Jacksonville, Florida, is accused of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery in Cherish Perrywinkle’s death.
Dickey/Florida Times-Union/APState Attorney Melissa Nelson, left, goes over photos of Cherish Perrywinkle’s autopsy with the Duval County medical Examiner, Dr. Valerie Rao, right as she testified of Donald Smith’s trial, Feb. 13, 2018, in Jacksonville, florida.
In June 2013, the Cherish Perrywinkle was with his mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, and his two sisters, the family shopped at a Dollar General.
Rayne Perrywinkle has said she has been approached by Smith, who, she said, offered to help them buy clothes in the vicinity of Walmart. She said that she and her daughters got into his van and went with him to the store.
“He looked in my face, and told me that I was safe,” she said on the stand Monday.
When the girls started to get hungry, Rayne Perrywinkle said Smith offered to get food at the McDonald’s inside Walmart. The surveillance video showed it and Cherish Perrywinkle walking out of the Walmart.
Dickey/Florida Times-Union/APDonald Smith enters the courtroom on the opening day of his trial for the murder of the death of 8-year Cherish Perrywinkle, Feb. 12, 2018, in the Duval County courthouse in Jacksonville, florida.
Rayne Perrywinkle said she could not find Cherish Perrywinkle in the store. Rayne Perrywinkle, who do not have a mobile phone, said she started calling around the store for help.
“I write, ‘Call 911. My daughter’s been taken.’ And no one’t, no one could help me immediately,” she said on the stand Monday.
In his call to 911, Rayne Perrywinkle could be heard saying, “He knew when the store was closed. I had a bad feeling about him. I don’t want him to kill her. I don’t want to be one of these parents, who are going through this. … He wanted him to buy these great shoes, and who are the women’s shoes and I said to him, ‘Do.’ I said, ‘They are too high for it. I’t even wear shoes that high.’ maybe he was grooming her. I hope to God, it’t kill it and I hope to God, it’t rape.”
She said the last time she had seen him Cherish Perrywinkle was an 8-year-old followed Smith to the Mcdonald’s.
Smith was arrested the next morning. Cherish Perrywinkle’s body was found the same day in a creek. It’d been raped and strangled and had blunt force trauma to the back of his head.
Smith is a registered sex offender and has been out of prison for less than a month. The state will have wrapped up its case today and the defense did not call any witnesses.
Closing arguments were expected Wednesday.