Last week was about what Donald Smith had done.
This week is about Donald Smith's alleged mental illness.
Last week, Smith was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.
This week he is facing either life in prison or the death penalty for his crimes.
The State's first witness was Kerri-Anne Buck. Smith pleaded guilty for attempting to kidnap her when she was 13. Melissa Nelson explained the traumatic event in her opening statement, “You’ll hear from her how she spread her little body like a spider in the tube.”
And through tears, Buck explained how Smith approached her in 1992 when she was just 13, chased her, and made her fear for her life. Smith was 36 at the time.
Buck said that Smith approached her while she was walking to a friend's house. After a short exchange, “He demanded that I get in the van. He said get the f*** in the van.” His voice sounded mean and scary.
“I tried to run to Tamara's house. At one point he had cut me off at a crossroad, and I just kept running and I did make it to Tamara’s house and no one was home and I pounded on the door and nobody answered.” Buck said through tears.
She knew Smith was still chasing her so she ran behind a school and into a playground. She ran into a circular slide and spread herself out to suspend her within the plastic.
“I was scared, I was slipping," said Buck, "I was so afraid I was going to fall down and he was going to find me.”
The van that had approached her pulled into the playground, she could hear it.
“I know you’re in there you little b****," Buck said she remembered Smith saying. "I’m going to find you.” But eventually he left and Buck was able to get home safely.
It was within a couple of weeks that Buck and her mother saw Smith's van in her neighborhood in front of her home. Buck and her mother followed the van to get the license plate number.
Buck said she made eye contact with Smith the day they got the license plate number, “He looked at me like he was going to kill me,” They reported to the police and Smith was arrested and served five years for the crime.
Smith would commit several crimes beginning in the 70s until he would murder Cherish in 2013. There were opportunities for him to be civilly committed, deemed to be a danger to himself or society, but he was not committed.
“I’m just surprised, given the opportunity I don’t know how this conclusion was reached," said Dr. Heather Holmes, a forensic and clinical psychologist.
The defense set up an argument that the State of Florida let Smith fall through the cracks through the years. Because he was a repeat offender, the sentences he received for his crimes over years could have been much more severe than they were.
“I would describe it as a little bit inappropriate. In the sense of she has rescued Mr. Smith repeatedly — financially, in terms of anything she could do...there’s a level of involvement beyond the norm.” Such as paying off debts to people he has purchased drugs from even into her old age.
Holmes diagnosed Smith with major depressive disorder, cocaine use disorder, and pedophilic disorder. She also indicated that he had an antisocial personality.
When asked if he displayed any remorse: “Was he crying? No. Did I ask him about remorse? No. There was nothing I saw that indicated remorse, no," said Holmes.
Smith said he blamed Cherish Perrywinkle for murdering her. He told Holmes. “F*** I’m a convicted sex offender how am I going to explain this?” when Cherish got into his van.
"Wondered if it was a typo at the end that said he did not meet the criteria.” to be civilly committed for being a danger to others or himself said Dr. Holmes. If he doesn't meet the criteria, then who does?
In a tense few moments in the courtroom, State Attorney Melissa Nelson spent time cross-examining Dr. Geoff Colino, a forensic neurologist. He spoke to atrophy he examined in PET and MRI scans of Smith's brain.
In his deposition, he said that this atrophy could be indicative of lack of oxygen to the brain which occurred during heart attacks that Smith suffered. During his testimony, he said the atrophy was caused by CTE, developmental issues, and trauma.
"As a human being I may have said yes, maybe not fully processing the question because I had the flu," said Colino.
Donald Smith's son will testify in the coming two days.
First Coast News will have live coverage on firstcoastnews.com.