March 15, 2006

Florida man gets death sentence for murdering girl

By Robert Green

SARASOTA, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida mechanic was
sentenced to death on Wednesday for the rape and murder of
11-year-old Carlie Brucia, whose abduction gained national
attention after being caught on a security camera and

Joseph Smith was identified from the videotape and
convicted of first degree murder in November. The jury voted
10-2 in favor of the death penalty, but the final decision of
execution or life in prison was up to Sarasota Circuit Judge
Andrew Owens.

Brucia disappeared on February 1, 2004, while she was
walking home from a friend's house. A surveillance camera at a
car wash she was passing recorded a man approaching her and
leading her away by her arm.

Brucia's body was found four days later. Police said she
had been raped and strangled.

At a hearing last month, Smith, 39, asked Owens not to
sentence him to death to spare his family further pain. He said
he had been depressed and using narcotics on the day of the
murder and did not remember much of what happened.

But Owens said Smith had acted in a cold and calculated
manner and that Brucia's death from strangulation with her
hands tied behind her had been especially cruel and heinous.

"Carlie Brucia endured unspeakable trauma," Owens said.

"Perhaps worst of all, Carlie Brucia knew she was going to
die. The defendant used her for his own sexual gratification."

Smith, dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit and handcuffed,
showed no emotion as he listened to Owens read the death

Appeals in the case are likely to delay Smith's execution
for a decade or more.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently blocked two scheduled
executions in Florida to consider appeals that the state's
method of lethal injection violated the constitutional ban
against cruel and unusual punishment.