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Death Penalty Sought In Cherish Perrywinkle Murder Case

Cyd Hoskinson

State Attorney Angela Corey says she will seek the death penalty against Donald Smith in the Cherish Perrywinkle case.

Smith is accused of kidnapping 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle from an area Walmart where he was shopping with her family. Her body was found the next morning. She had been strangled.

Corey announced this morning that a grand jury had indicted the 56 year old Smith on 3 counts.

“Murder in the first degree, and then capital sexual battery and kidnapping of a child. The sexual battery alone is a capital offense,” said Corey.

Smith is a registered sex offender with a long history of preying on young girls.

Corey says the case is a top priority for her office.

“Any time we have a child victim, our office views that very seriously, obviously, as does the public," she said today. "This is the one crime that gets to the heart of everyone. And it’s hard. I sit here with 32 years of experience, and I have chills all over my body speaking about this case right now.”

In the meantime, authorities continue to look for a blue stroller and other items Cherish’s mother said she left in Smith’s van when he drove her family to the Walmart. It’s possible, they say, that finding the missing items could lead them to a secondary crime scene. 

Smith will be formally arraigned July 16th. 

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.