December 1, 2005

Florida jury recommends death for girl’s killer

SARASOTA, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida jury on Thursday
recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of
kidnapping, raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl in a crime
partly captured by a security camera.

Jurors, following five hours of deliberations, voted 10-2
in favor of the death penalty for Joseph Smith, a 39-year-old
Sarasota mechanic.

The same jury found Smith guilty last month in the
abduction and killing of Carlie Brucia, who disappeared on
February 1, 2004, as she walked home from a friend's house.

The case gained wide attention after a surveillance camera
at a carwash videotaped a man approaching Brucia and leading
her away. Smith was identified from the videotape.

Brucia's body was found five days later and police said she
had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

The final decision on whether Smith is sentenced to death
or gets a life sentence rests with Circuit Judge Andrew Owens,
who is required to give great weight to the jury's
recommendation. Owens is expected to issue his sentence in

"It (execution) should happen today," Brucia's mother,
Susan Schorpen, told reporters after the jury recommendation.

Prosecutors said Smith deserved the death penalty because
his crime was especially heinous and cruel. They said Brucia
was strangled with a cord.

Smith's public defenders said he suffered from depression
and drug addiction and should be sentenced to life without