Struggling through tears, the mother of an 8-year-old who was abducted from a Florida Walmart and later raped and killed said the man accused of the crime had convinced her he was a good Samaritan who was trying to help her family out.
Rayne Perrywinkle sat facing 61-year-old defendant Donald Smith in a Jacksonville courtroom, and testified about the day her daughter, Cherish Perrywinkle, disappeared.
Smith is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape. If convicted, he faces a possible death sentence.
Rayne Perrywinkle said Smith had been hovering around her and her three daughters while they shopped at a discount store earlier in the day. She was looking for clothes for all three children and could not afford it.
Smith watched as Rayne tried to work out how to pay for the clothes, Rayne testified, and said when she came outside he was waiting. He offered to take them to a nearby Walmart and make purchases with a gift card.
The mother testified that she was wary, but accepted because Smith assured her his wife would meet them at the Walmart.
“He looked into my face and told me I was safe,” Rayne Perrywinkle said.
“Did you want to believe him?” prosecutor Mark Caliel asked.
“Very much so,” Rayne replied.
The mother and her three daughters piled into Smith’s white van. They went to a nearby Walmart and she began shopping with her girls, placing three small piles of clothing in a shopping cart.
It got late, after 10 p.m., and Smith’s wife never appeared. Rayne said her daughters were getting restless because they had not had dinner.
Smith told Rayne he would go to a McDonald’s inside the store and get them cheeseburgers. Cherish followed him and was never seen alive again.
Rayne Perrywinkle said some 20 minutes later, she realized the McDonald’s inside the Walmart was closed and she began to panic. Her cellphone didn’t work — a daughter had dunked it in water to try and clean it — so she cried out for help realizing her daughter had been taken.
“I was yelling…