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Trial Date Set For Alleged Murderer Of 8-Year-Old Jacksonville Girl

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

The trial of the man accused of murdering 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle has been set for early April.

Donald Smith is accused of kidnapping Perrywinkle from a Walmart on the city’s Northside two years ago.

Smith is also charged with rape and murder.

As our partner News4Jax reports, Smith is a convicted sex offender who was released from jail less than a month before Perrywinkle went missing.

Her kidnapping and murder helped push state lawmakers to pass a slew of measures strengthening sex offender and predator statutes last year.

The case also prompted an investigation into the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Program, which is meant to rehabilitate the state’s most dangerous criminals.

Smith will be in court again on Nov. 4, where his lawyers will argue the trial should move to a different location because an impartial jury can't be found in Duval County.

Smith’s trial is set to begin April 4.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.