9 Of The Most Disturbing Details From The Murder Of 8-Year-Old Cherish Perrywinkle (Who Was Kidnapped At Walmart)

9 Of The Most Disturbing Details We've Learned So Far From The Cherish Perrywinkle Case
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The trial began Monday.

The trial of Donald Smith, the man accused of raping, torturing, and killing eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in 2013, began in a Florida court Monday.

The young girl was allegedly abducted from a Northside Walmart by Smith, 61, who pretended to be a good Samaritan. But the images and testimonies brought forth during the trial showed that Smith was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“Cherish Perrywinkle was 8 years old,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson said in her opening statement. “She weighed 67 pounds. Separated from her mother, from her little sisters, from all she knew what was safe in this world, she spent the last petrifying hours of her life with him.”

Here is everything you need to know about the Cherish Perrywinkle case and the trial of her alleged killer.

1. Cherish's mother thought Smith was a good Samaritan.

News4Jax

The trial Monday began with a testimony from Cherish’s mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, about her daughter’s disappearance on June 21, 2013.

Rayne was at a Dollar General with her three daughters when Smith noticed they were putting clothes back on the shelf because she couldn't afford them.

According to Rayne, Smith approached her and said he had a $150 gift card to Walmart and offered them a ride. He said his wife would meet them at the store, but Smith is unmarried. During the trial, the audio from Rayne’s 911 call played.

“I should’ve told him no,” she had told a 911 operator, “but my girls need clothes so bad. I’m so sorry.”

Rayne knew her daughter’s fate was most likely grim.

“I hope to God he doesn't kill her and I hope to God he doesn't rape her,” she told the dispatcher.

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2. Smith told the judge not to cross-examine Cherish’s mother.

New York Post

“I don’t want her to have to go through anything she doesn't have to go through,” Smith told Judge Mallory Coper. “I’m done.”

3. Surveillance footage shows Smith leaving with the eight-year-old.

Rayne said the girls had not had dinner and Smith offered to take them to the McDonald’s inside the store. He walked away with Cherish and she was not seen again after that.

"No one noticed. It looked like a grandfather and a granddaughter," Nelson said.

About an hour of surveillance footage from Walmart was played during the trial. It clearly showed Smith exiting the store with young Cherish following him.

4. Smith had been released from prison just 21 days earlier.

PEOPLE

Rayne was unaware that Smith was a registered sex offender and was behind bars very recently.

He has a history of preying on young children that goes all the back to the 70s. He has been arrested a dozen times.

In 1977, Smith was convicted of lewd behavior toward a minor. He was also sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to kidnap a minor in 1993.

He had just been released from prison three weeks prior to Cherish’s death after serving a year in jail for impersonating a public employee and attempting to cause mental harm to a child.

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5. Cherish’s body was found by a creek.

Cherish’s battered, half-naked body was found a few miles away in a marshy woodland area covered in debris. She was wearing the same dress she was last seen in at Walmart.

Officer Charles Wilkie testified that he stood by her body to make sure it was not eaten by alligators.

“All I could do was stand by her & preserve the evidence,” Wilkie said. “My daughter has the same dress.”

6. The medical examiner broke down in tears in court.

WJCT

Dr. Valerie Rao testified against Smith. During her testimony, she described in detail what the poor girl suffered before her death. Rao said Cherish was strangled, forcibly raped, sodomized, and suffered blunt force trauma to the back of her head.

Rao could not fight her tears and began crying while describing the girl’s injuries.

“Cherish did not die quickly and she did not die easily,” Nelson said. “In fact, hers was a very brutal and tortured death.”

7. The jury had a difficult time looking at photos of Cherish’s body.

News4Jax

According to The Florida Times-Union, jurors looked away, hid their faces, even cried, at the pictures shown to them of Cherish’s 8-year-old dead body.

“Every mother’s darkest nightmare became Rayne Perrywinkle’s reality,” Nelson said.

8. Twelve people were called to testify against Smith.

Those who testified against the alleged murderer included a couple Smith spoke to in the Walmart parking lot, shoppers who saw Smith with Cherish, a former Walmart security guard, the assistant store manager of the Dollar General, and a police officer who pulled Smith over and saw his pants were soaked.

9. Smith could face the death penalty.

The Florida Times-Union

Smith is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and rape. If he is convicted he could face the death penalty in the state of Florida.

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