8-year-old rape, murder victim endured nightmare

Medical examiner, jurors break down in tears during girl's murder trial

A medical examiner who performed an autopsy on an 8-year-old who was raped and murdered in the U.S. broke down in court as she was testifying.

Donald Smith enters the courtroom on opening day of his murder trial in the death of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, Feb. 12, 2018, at the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla. She says she became anxious when Smith's wife still hadn't shown up at the store by 10 p.m. "He was giving my 8-year-old too much attention". Rozier said "I have no idea" why Smith would pull up and tell him that. Perrywinkle's answers about why she chose to get into Smith's van with her children were halting and tinged with regret and sorrow. Cherish's mother called 911 after she began to suspect Smith had left with the girl. She testified that he believed him.

The wife never showed, and Smith instead lured Cherish away from her mother and two sisters as they shopped.

"He told me I was safe", Perrywinkle said in court. "He looked into my face and told me I was safe". Smith said he would go to the McDonald's inside the store and pick up a few cheeseburgers.

"I don't want him to kill her".

Randy Reep, an attorney not affiliated with the case, said it was a smart move for him. "This is all about the death penalty portion of the case from a mitigation standpoint, and that might be one reason why (he thought it was) a bad idea to cross-examine Rayne Perrywinkle". The family loaded into Smith's white van, lined with dark curtains on the inside.

Medical examiner, jurors break down in tears during girl's murder trial
Hear Frantic 911 Call Where Cherish Perrywinkle's Mother Said Her Daughter Was Missing (VIDEO)

"I can't remember what my own child is wearing", she said, pointing out that she was panicking. After utilizing K-9 units, little Cherish's lifeless body was found in a nearby swampy ditch.

"He gagged her, raped her, he sodomized her, then he strangled her".

Wilkie testified his first reaction was to try to save her, but he could tell immediately that it was too late for that. "She suffered swelling of her brain as a result of lack of oxygen to her brain, and as a result of which, she died", Rao said. "Cherish did not die quickly, and she did not die easily".

Caliel also replayed audio recordings of Smith taken 2 years after Perryywinkle's death, in which he appeared to be gloating about her death and leering at other young girls.

Smith was later arrested and charged with first-degree premeditated murder, sexual battery, and kidnapping. Later, he was convicted in for posing as a member of the Department of Children and Family services so he could get access to a child.

Check back with CrimeOnline as we continue to cover key details in the trial.

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