A jury in Florida took less than 15 minutes to deliver a guilty verdict in a kidnap, rape, and murder case, The Associated Press reports.
Prosecutors said Cherish Perrywinkle, 8, was abducted in 2013 at a Walmart in Jacksonville.
Donald Smith, 61, was accused of raping and murdering the child.
Before the verdict, Medical Examiner Valerie Rao, who performed the autopsy, walked jurors through the findings.
Rao said that the girl died from mechanical asphyxia after being raped.
“What she sustained was tremendous force on her neck, such that she basically, she could not breathe. 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 testified, reported WOKV.
Rao said it took three to five minutes for the child to die as the girl fought for her life.
DNA swabs taken from the girl’s neck matched Smith, who was examined after being arrested, she said.
No witnesses were called to defend Smith, reported News4Jax.
Jurors listening to the testimony from Rao and others were moved, some to the point of tears.
At one point, Rao appeared to get emotional and requested a break. The defense requested a mistrial, arguing that Rao’s emotional reaction during her testimony could prejudice the jurors against Smith. Prosecutors argued that Rao was affected by the horrific crime because she’s human.
Judge Mallory Cooper denied the motion, and Rao came back and testified further.
The mother of Cherish, Rayne Perrywinkle, said the previous day that she was hoodwinked by Smith, who convinced her he was a good Samaritan trying to help the family out before he vanished with her daughter.
Smith overheard her struggling to pay for things for her three daughters at a discount store and stepped in to help.
He offered to take them to Walmart to buy clothes with a gift card he had, she said.
“He looked into my face and told me I was safe,” Perrywinkle said, according to News4Jax.
At one point, Cherish followed Smith out of the Walmart and by the time Perrywinkle noticed, it was too late.
Smith had been released from prison only three weeks before the fateful day, and has been arrested more than a dozen times over the last 40 years.