An attorney for condemned killer Joseph Smith is asking the Florida
Supreme Court to overturn his death sentence. Smith was sentenced to
death for the highly publicized murder of 11 year old Carlie Brucia in
His abduction of the middle school student was captured on
security cameras and broadcast nationwide.
Public Defender Deborah Brueckheimer raised questions about the handling of DNA that linked Smith to the killing and sexual assault, suggesting it could have been mis- handled by the FBI lab and that lawyers for Smith didn't have a chance to adequately question technicians on how the evidence was handled.
The defense questioned why graphic photos were shown to the jury and is also suggesting several jurors had already made up their minds and should have been excluded from the jury pool. The jury voted 10-2 for death.
The court itself seemed concerned that the trial judge sited six
aggregating factors in imposing death and that at least two of them may
have been improper, including a prior conviction in which Smith pleaded
no contest. The court also asked pointed questions about Smith's alleged drug use and whether the crime was pre-meditated.
A lawyer for the state argued the DNA was properly handled and that
strangulating the 11 year old was well thought out in advance since
Smith attacked her from behind with a shoe lace and strangled her while her hands were bound.
In disputing the allegation that Smith was under the influence of drugs
and didn't remember anything, Assistant Attorney General Carol Dittmar
recalled testimony from neighbors who saw Smith before and after the
abduction and said he was acting normally.
The court took the case under advisement. Neither attorney would talk
with reporters afterward. The court could order a new trial, a new
sentencing hearing, or affirm the lower court decision.