It took just 12 minutes of deliberation to reach a guilty verdict in the Cherish Perrywinkle murder trial, according to the court clerk.
The jury found Donald Smith guilty of kidnapping, raping, and murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in June of 2013. Smith was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.
While Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel gave the State's closing argument, every single jury member had their eyes focused on him. He paced in front of them as he spoke.
"Cherish Perrywinkle was 8 years old and weighed 67 pounds," Caliel said, then after a brief moment, he repeated the same sentence.
“He may not look like much of a threat in his shirt and in his tie, but on that night, in comparison to that little girl, he had the strength of a giant. He selected her, he lured her away from her family and safety he made her feel safe with his lies and his deception," he continued, occasionally looking at Smith with a scowl.
Though the jury was warned that closing statements could not be used as evidence in the case, it was clear that closing statements were causing a visceral reaction to those in the courtroom.
"He tore her apart," he said of the injuries Cherish sustained before her violent death. A death so violent, even a well-seasoned medical examiner had to excuse herself from her testimony for a brief recess.
RELATED | Medical examiner's emotional testimony tells horror, torment of Cherish Perrywinkle's final hours
The jurors shed tears, the media shed tears and the whole country watched as Mark Caliel gave the State's closing statement. He painted the picture of Smith carefully choosing Cherish, luring her away from her family, and extinguishing her brilliant life with violent force.
“If you have anger inside of you it’s not because of what I said or Ms. Nelson said, it’s because of what you saw. It’s because of what he did," Caliel pointing at point at Smith.
“The only thing he picked up, the only thing he placed in that shopping cart: Rope. We know the intent behind that because we’ve seen what happened afterward.”
Donald Smith did not cry, but in his chair, situated between his two lawyers, he swayed, while the rest of the courtroom sat almost entirely still.
“The true killer of Cherish Perrywinkle sits across from me in this courtroom right now.”
The defense waived their argument, jury instructions were ready, they were dismissed for deliberations and a short 12 minutes later, they returned and handed down their guilty verdict.
Rayne Perrywinkle wept.
The penalty phase of the case will begin on Tuesday. The death penalty or life in prison are the only two fates possible for Donald Smith at this point.