Judge reinstates death penalty for 11-year-old Carlie Brucia’s killer

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – After months of waiting, the loved ones of a Sarasota girl raped and murdered more than 15 years ago may finally have some closure.

On Wednesday, Judge Charles Roberts motioned to reinstate the death sentence for Joseph Smith.

Smith was convicted with abducting, raping and murdering 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in 2004. He 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 in January 2020 put the option back on the table. Prosecutors filed to re-sentence Smith to death.

Although the defense had asked the court to remove the death penalty as a sentencing option since they claim Smith has a “severe mental illness,” Judge Roberts decided to reinstate the death sentence because of legal precedent.

Smith and his legal team have exhausted all appeals and will now return to death row, awaiting his execution.


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