The Associated Press reports that a jury convicted a Florida man within minutes of being released for deliberation of the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl. Donald Smith, 61, was convicted with a unanimous decision from his jury in Jacksonville. Smith did not make any expression during the reading of the verdict.
In 2013, the victim was taken from a Walmart after Smith told her mother he would help her family buy clothes by getting them a gift card. He posed as a good Samaritan when he met the mother at a different discount store that same day, and offered to have his wife meet them at the Walmart with the gift card.
Smith’s wife never showed, and he proceeded to lure the victim away from her mother and sister as they were shopping. Later, the mother said she hadn’t fed the girls yet, so Smith offered to get them burgers from a McDonalds at the front of the store.
The victim followed him to the McDonald’s, which was closed when they arrived. Surveillance videos then show the victim following him to the parking lot and getting into his white van, where Smith left with her.
The mother realized several minutes later that something was wrong and borrowed a phone from a Walmart employee to dial 911.
The body of the victim was found in Jacksonville creek. Smith’s pants were wet when he was arrested, and his DNA was found on the victim’s body.
Jurors will return to court next Tuesday for the penalty phase of the trial, which includes a potential death sentence for Smith. His conviction was for the first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery of a child less than 12 years old, says the AP.
*Photo credit The Associated Press