The father of murdered 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle teared up as he remembered his daughter in an interview with the Law&Crime Network on Friday.
“She had a good life ahead of her,” Billy Jarreau said, “and would probably have been very successful at something, but we’ll never know now.” He had described his daughter as a cheerful girl who had the “biggest smile on her face, every time you seen her.”
Donald Smith was convicted last week for her murder and brutal rape. A jury sentenced him to death on Thursday. Prosecutors said he abducted Perrywinkle from a Walmart in 2013. Now-retired K9 Officer Charlie Wilkie, of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said the girl’s body was placed in a creek. Prosecutors said Smith had attempted to hide her under bricks, cement, and other material.
For Jarreau, Thursday’s verdict isn’t enough.
“No, it’s not justice,” he said. “The legal system works the way it works, but he’s been living for five years after the death of my daughter, and he’s going to be living until the death penalty is done or whatever the case may be, and that’s not justice. She didn’t get that option to live those many years. She was 8-and-half years old, and she was taken away that night.” He later added, “I don’t think there is a way to have justice in something like this.”
Jarreau declined to answer if he approved of the death verdict. He supported the penalty in certain situations, but added that it wasn’t his decision to make. He suggested he was fine with the jury’s choice either way because Smith, who is 61, will probably die of old age in prison before getting executed.
The judge will formally sentence Smith next month in a Florida courtroom, but Jarreau, who lives in California, said he won’t show up. He’ll have his attorney read a statement on his behalf because he’s afraid of what he might do once he’s in the same room with the man who killed his daughter.
Jarreau’s relationship with the mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, has been over for years, with custody battles over their children before and after Cherish’s death. Rayne Perrywinkle testified that she, accompanied by her three kids including Cherish, was approached by Smith. Cherish was going to visit her father in California, and Smith promised Rayne Perrywinkle he’d buy clothes for the girl for the trip.
Jarreau’s attorney Gerald Wilkerson said they will not pursue further legal action against the mother.
“We’ve explored options,” he said. “I do believe personally that the mother is criminally liable, but that’s something that state has already made a determination on.” He said his client is ready to move on with life.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]