Tearful mother testifies about 8-year-old's abductionFebruary 13, 2018 5:16am

Struggling through tears, the mother of an 8-year-old who was abducted from a Florida Walmart and later raped and killed said the man accused of the crime had convinced her he was a good Samaritan who was trying to help her family out.

Rayne Perrywinkle sat facing 61-year-old defendant Donald Smith in a Jacksonville courtroom, and testified about the day her daughter, Cherish Perrywinkle, disappeared.

Smith is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape. If convicted, he faces a possible death sentence.

Rayne Perrywinkle said Smith had been hovering around her and her three daughters while they shopped at a discount store earlier in the day. She was looking for clothes for all three children and could not afford it.

Smith watched as Rayne tried to work out how to pay for the clothes, Rayne testified, and said when she came outside he was waiting. He offered to take them to a nearby Walmart and make purchases with a gift card.

The mother testified that she was wary, but accepted because Smith assured her his wife would meet them at the Walmart.

"He looked into my face and told me I was safe," Rayne Perrywinkle said.

"Did you want to believe him?" prosecutor Mark Caliel asked.

"Very much so," Rayne replied.

The mother and her three daughters piled into Smith's white van. They went to a nearby Walmart and she began shopping with her girls, placing three small piles of clothing in a shopping cart.

It got late, after 10 p.m., and Smith's wife never appeared. Rayne said her daughters were getting restless because they had not had dinner.

Smith told Rayne he would go to a McDonald's inside the store and get them cheeseburgers. Cherish followed him and was never seen alive again.

Rayne Perrywinkle said some 20 minutes later, she realized the McDonald's inside the Walmart was closed and she began to panic. Her cellphone didn't work — a daughter had dunked it in water to try and clean it — so she cried out for help realizing her daughter had been taken.

"I was yelling 'Call 911! My daughter's been taken,' and no one would help me right away," she said. About 40 minutes after her daughter disappeared, an employee gave her a cellphone and she called 911, prosecutors said.

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

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

She said Cherish's mutilated body would later be found in a creek. She'd been raped, smothered and had blunt force trauma to the back of her head. She was wearing an orange dress with a fruit pattern on it. When Smith was arrested, Nelson said he was wet from the waist down.

Smith's defense attorney, Julie Schlax, suggested to the jury that Rayne Perrywinkle made poor decisions getting into the van.

She said she would cross-examine Rayne, but after the mother's testimony Smith told his attorneys not to cross examine her, so they told the court they had changed their mind.

Before his arrest for Cherish's death, Smith had a long criminal history dating back to the 1970s related to lewd and lascivious conduct. Doctors determined that he met the criteria of a violent sexual predator after arrests in 1999, and he had served prison time and been ordered to get treatment, according to the Florida Times-Union newspaper.

In 2009 he posed as a child welfare worker and asked a child sexually explicit questions on the telephone and was arrested on felony charges, which were later reduced to misdemeanors, the newspaper reported.

___

Follow Jason Dearen on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2018 file photo,  students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus.  Students are taught to evacuate during fire alarms but lock down during school shootings. So there was confusion Wednesday when a fire alarm sounded,  the second one that day at the high school as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz unleashed a barrage of gunfire. Head for the exits or hunker down in classrooms? (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
For school shooting suspect, main question is life or death
Rhanda Dormeus, the mother of Korryn Gaines, speaks to the media on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 in Towson, Md.  The family of Korryn Gaines, who was fatally shot by police two years ago may never receive the entire $37 million it was awarded in a lawsuit this week. Maryland has a cap on local governments' liabilities in such cases, and judges have a tendency to lower large awards on appeal.  Legal experts say that it's unlikely the young son of Korryn Gaines and other relatives will see all the money awarded Friday.  (Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Family of woman killed by police may not see full $37M award
Lauren Duck, right, hugs Debby Stout, left, as they stand on a street corner holding up anti gun signs in Parkland, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.  As families begin burying their dead, authorities are questioning whether they could have prevented the attack at the high school where a gunman, Nikolas Cruz, took several lives.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
The Latest: Second gun-control rally held in Florida
Family of Scott Beigel, the 35 year-old geography teacher who was killed during the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shootings, escort his casket to the mausoleum after the service at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (Charles Trainor Jr/Miami Herald via AP)
The Latest: Shooting survivors focus anger at Trump, tweets
FILE - In this June 24, 2016, file photo, Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming, answers a reporter's question during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic team trials in Omaha, Neb. USA Swimming and longtime executive director Wielgus, who apologized to victims of sexual abuse, maintained control over the day-to-day operations right up until his death in April from colon cancer. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
Column: US Olympic movement keeps failing young athletes
Special election to replace lawmaker who killed himselfVoters in a Louisville, Kentucky, suburb will soon choose a successor for a Republican state lawmaker who killed himself last year after a woman publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her in his basement when she was a teenager and he was her pastor
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices