Examining the Evidence: Breaking Down the Cherish Perrywinkle Autopsy Report
On June 21, 2013, Cherish Perrywinkle was abducted, raped, and murdered by Donald Smith in Jacksonville, Florida. Smith had lured the eight-year-old girl and her mother to a Walmart store under the pretext of buying them food and clothes. He then convinced them to go with him to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, where he abducted Cherish while her mother was distracted on a phone call.
After an intensive search, Cherish’s naked and lifeless body was found in a swampy area near the city airport, 12 hours after her abduction. Smith was charged with her rape and murder, as well as kidnapping, and faced a possible death penalty if convicted. His trial began on February 12, 2018, and lasted for two weeks, during which the prosecution presented a plethora of evidence to prove his guilt, including the autopsy report of Cherish Perrywinkle.
In this article, we will examine the Cherish Perrywinkle autopsy report and break down its contents to understand the nature and extent of the injuries she suffered, and to evaluate their significance in determining the cause and manner of her death.
The autopsy report was prepared by Dr. Valerie Rao, a forensic pathologist who conducted the examination on June 22, 2013, the day after Cherish’s body was found. The report consists of 14 pages, including a summary of the findings, a description of the external and internal findings, and a conclusion about the cause and manner of death.
The summary states that Cherish was a well-developed and well-nourished eight-year-old girl who weighed 68 pounds and measured 4’4″ in height. She had no significant medical history or recent illnesses. The report notes that her body was unclothed and showed signs of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation.
The external examination describes the injuries that were visible on her body. She had abrasions on her face, neck, chest, abdomen, back, arms, legs, and genital area. There were also contusions on her forehead, left eye, arms, and legs. The report notes that some of the injuries were consistent with defensive wounds, suggesting that Cherish may have struggled with her attacker.
The internal examination provides a more detailed account of the injuries that were found inside her body. There was bruising and hemorrhaging of the muscles of her neck and chest, as well as petechial hemorrhages in her face and eyes. These findings indicate that Cherish was strangled, causing a lack of oxygen to her brain and vital organs.
The report also notes that there was evidence of sexual assault, including tears in the hymen and vaginal wall, as well as semen and sperm cells found in her vaginal and anal cavities. The DNA testing of these samples confirmed that they matched that of Donald Smith, the defendant in the case.
The conclusion of the report states that the cause of death was mechanical asphyxia due to neck compression, with contributory factors of blunt force trauma and sexual assault. The manner of death was ruled a homicide, meaning that it was caused by the intentional actions of another person.
The autopsy report provides crucial evidence in understanding the circumstances and causes of Cherish Perrywinkle’s death. Its findings support the prosecution’s case that she was abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered by Donald Smith. The injuries on her body indicate a brutal and sustained attack that caused significant trauma and suffering, as well as a deliberate attempt to conceal the evidence by leaving her body in a remote location.
The report also supports the argument that Cherish was unable to defend herself effectively against her attacker, as evidenced by the defensive wounds and the lack of significant injuries on Smith’s body. This factor is relevant in determining the degree of culpability and malice of the defendant, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of any potential defenses, such as self-defense or intoxication.
Overall, the Cherish Perrywinkle autopsy report is a crucial piece of evidence in the criminal case against Donald Smith. It provides a detailed and objective account of the injuries and conditions of the victim’s body, as well as the expert opinion of a forensic pathologist about the cause and manner of her death. Its findings are likely to play a significant role in the jury’s verdict and sentencing, as well as in shaping public discourse and policy about crimes against children and the need for effective prevention and intervention strategies.