A little over a week after he was sentenced to death, Donald Smith is asking for a new trial.
According to a motion filed by his attorneys, Smith deserves a new trial because “the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence,” as well as several “errors” by the court.
Smith was convicted Feb. 15 of kidnapping, raping and killing 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in 2013. He was sentenced to death by the same jury a week later.
Smith’s attorneys cite several errors by Judge Mallory Cooper. They say the court should not have allowed jurors to see autopsy and crime scene photos of Perrywinkle. They note that several jurors became upset upon viewing the photos, and even the Medical Examiner had to ask for a break.
Attorneys also say the court should not have permitted the state to introduce evidence that Smith placed rope in the shopping cart at the Walmart where Perrywinkle was taken “as evidence of what he intended to do.”
The motion also says jurors should not have been allowed to listen to secret jail recordings of Smith talking about Perrywinkle’s body. And attorneys further objected to State Attorney’s Melissa Nelson’s reference to the case as “a mother’s worst nightmare.” When defense objected to the language at the time, the motion notes, Nelson “said it again, even louder.”
RELATED | Jury hears recordings of Donald Smith from jail about young girls: 'That's right up my alley'
Motions for new trial are pro-forma in death penalty cases, and are used as a placeholder for future appeals.
First Coast News has reached out to Smith’s attorneys and Nelson for comment on this developing story.