Judge delays decision in convicted killer Joseph Smith death penalty motion

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Loved ones of a Sarasota girl raped and murdered more than 15 years ago will have to wait another month to learn if her killer will be put to death.

Prosecutors are trying to get Joseph Smith back on death row after his conviction in the 2004 abduction, rape and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. Smith was sentenced to death but the jury was not unanimous, creating issues years later when the Supreme Court ruled nonunanimous death sentences were unconstitutional.

Smith’s death sentence was vacated in 2017, but then a contradictory Florida Supreme Court decision last month put the option back on the table. Prosecutors filed to re-sentence Smith to death.

In court Tuesday, the judge delayed making a decision on the state’s motion, waiting to see what precedent the state Supreme Court sets in another death penalty case. That ruling is expected later this month.

Those who loved Carlie, like Cheri Langworthy, feel that every delay is a disservice to her memory.

“Makes me very angry, why should he live longer than she did?” Langford asked out loud after court.

She wore a shirt bearing Carlie’s face and name.

“I made this shirt 16 years ago,” she said. “I just feel like people need to remember her.”

Smith is due back in court on March 17.

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