JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The State Attorney will seek the death penalty in the murder case against Donald Smith after a grand jury handed up an indictment on charges of first degree murder, kidnapping of a child under the age of 13, and sexual battery on a child under the age of 12.
"We feel time is of the essence and that we want to keep this case on track. Death cases are different," state attorney Angela Corey said in a Tuesday news conference.
When asked if Smith had offered any sort of confession since his arrest, Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel said he could not comment on any statements the defendant has made. The State Attorney would also not discuss what happened between the time of Cherish's abduction Friday, June 21st and the time of her recovery the next day due to the sensitive nature of the investigation. Caliel says it would be inappropriate for the SAO to comment on any possible pending charges against Cherish's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle.
The Florida Department of Children in Families now confirms to WOKV that they are in contact with the Perrywinkle family.
“We just want to check on the living situation of the children in that home,” says DCF Spokesman John Harrell.
Harrell says it’s normal in an investigation like this, with a suspicious death and other young children in the home, to make contact. He says DCF is offering the family resources while also making sure the two young children are doing well and the home is suitable.
Among new details included in the indictment we obtained today is the cause of death. We’ve learned Cherish was strangled. Additionally, the SAO says Smith premeditated the murder.
Caliel also renewed a push for any information you may have on a blue, older model, front and back stroller that he describes as a key piece of evidence. The stroller was allegedly put in the back of Smith’s van en route to the Walmart where Cherish was abducted, but when Smith was detained the next day the stroller was not present. While Police won’t say exactly why they are searching for the stroller, Caliel says it could lead them to a second crime scene.
Smith is due to be arraigned in July 16th. He has pled not guilty and remains in jail on no bond.