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Murdered 8-year-old's mom tearfully recalls night she met Donald Smith

14 February 2018

A Florida mother took the witness stand on Monday to testify against the man who took advantage of her desperation and allegedly raped and murdered her 8-year-old daughter.

"No one noticed. It looked like a grandfather and a granddaughter", State Attorney Melissa Nelson told the jury during her opening statement.

Rayne Perrywinkle sat facing 61-year-old defendant Donald Smith in a Jacksonville courtroom today and told the court about the day her daughter was abducted in June 2013. She is heard telling a dispatcher, "I feel like a fool", and saying she couldn't remember what Smith was wearing or what his license plate was, Bourne tweeted.

Smith of Jacksonville, Florida, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery in Cherish Perrywinkle's death. On the stand Monday, Periwinkle said she was tired of Smith at first, believing he was going to rob her, but after talking to him, she stopped believing him to be a threat.

It's when Smith went to the front of that Northside Walmart to purportedly get food for the family, that he instead leaves, with Cherish following.

She said Cherish's mutilated body would later be found in a creek. She didn't have a working cell phone, and she says she began crying out for help. She'd been raped and smothered and had blunt force trauma to the back of her head. "Can I just have, like, five minutes?"

Prosecutors said that less than 12 hours after the video showed Smith leaving the store with Cherish, police stopped his van on Interstate 95 near downtown. Viewing autopsy photographs of her battered body in court on Tuesday, she became teary and asked to take a break.

Perrywinkle recalled what Smith told her as she walked out the front door.

Surveillance footage from the store caught the image of Smith and Cherish exiting, the girl skipping out behind him.

Charles Wilkie Sr., a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office K-9 officer who responded to the traffic stop, said as soon as he saw Donald Smith's clothes were soaking wet, he feared the worst.

"Cherish did not die quickly or easily".

First witness will be Cherish Perrywinkle's mother Rayne Perrywinkle. "In fact, hers was a brutal and tortured death", Nelson told the court.

Authorities released Smith for that crime in May 2013, less than a month before he was arrested for killing Cherish.

The jury will now hear evidence in the trial's penalty phase as it decides whether to sentence him to death.

Smith, who has a criminal record dating back to the 1970s, is represented by public defenders. He was arrested in 1977 for exposing himself in the presence of a minor, spent a year in jail, put on probation, then imprisoned for 14 months after violating that probation. Perrywinkle sued the father, Billy Jarreau, for child support three years later, and the two fought for custody of the girl for the rest of her life.

Murdered 8-year-old's mom tearfully recalls night she met Donald Smith