10 years since a Jacksonville girl was kidnapped, raped, killed

It’s been ten years since 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle was abducted from a Jacksonville Walmart by a convicted sex offender.

Donald Smith met Cherish’s mother, Rayne, at a Northside store where she was shopping with Cherish and her two sisters.

On June 21, 2013, Rayne followed Smith, who had befriended her and her children, to the Walmart on Lem Turner Road, where he promised to bring them food.

Officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said surveillance footage showed Smith leaving the store with Cherish. The next day, the girl is found dead. Police say Smith raped Cherish and dumped her body behind a church near Broward Road.

Smith was convicted of crimes committed in 1977, 1992 and 2009. These include allegations of exposing himself to children, trying to lure children into his van and even impersonating for a Florida Department of Children and Families worker to perform a kit rape on a child. But even after arrests spanning 40 years, the registered sex offender was allowed to go free.

HISTORY 2016: Prison conversations take center stage in case against accused murderer of Cherish Perrywinkle

“I don’t know why he slipped through the cracks” Jax legal and security expert Dale Carson said in 2014.

Smith’s trial did not take place until February 2018. It took the jury 14 minutes to convict Smith of the murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of Cherish.

The jury unanimously recommended a death sentence for Smith.

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In May 2018, Smith was sentenced to death by Judge Mallory Cooper.

As she sentenced him to death for Cherish’s murder, Cooper said, “Donald James Smith, God have mercy on your soul.”

After the sentence, Rayne Perrywinkle had this message for Smith“I could say burn in hell. That’s what I mean. I want him to burn in hell. I hope he’s watching this right now.

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In 2020, the Florida Supreme Court appealed Smith, who asked for a new trial.

In April 2021, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously upheld Smith’s conviction and death sentence.

Smith is on death row, currently being held in a maximum security facility at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.

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