NewsSarasota, Manatee County


State files motion to reinstate death penalty for man convicted of raping, killing 11-year-old girl

Posted at 6:13 PM, Feb 18, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. — Right now prosecutors are trying to reinstate the death penalty for Joseph Smith, the man who was convicted of raping and killing 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in 2004.

"Why should he live longer than she did," said Cheri Langworthy, a close family friend to Carlie's parents.

It’s a question family and friends of Carlie Brucia have been asking for more than a decade.

Joseph Smith is convicted of kidnapping, raping, and killing 11-year-old Brucia in 2004. He was sentenced to death in 2006.

Surveillance video showed Smith approaching Brucia, grabbing her arm, and leading her away. It was the last time she was seen alive.

SARASOTA NEWS | The latest headlines from Sarasota County

Brucia's body was found days later in a wooded area behind a church. She had been suffocated and sexually assaulted.

"I just don’t feel that he should be breathing longer than she is living," said Langworthy.

Neither did a jury. They sentenced Smith to death by a 10-2 vote.

But a supreme court ruling overturned the decision after a case ruling that death sentences require a unanimous vote.

Now a new supreme court ruling is reconsidering that in a current case, Poole vs. State, which is why the state attorney’s office has filed a motion to reinstate the death penalty for Joseph Smith.

On Tuesday, Judge Charles Roberts said though he agrees with the original death penalty ruling, he can’t make a decision until the supreme court does.

"So I will reserve ruling pending the final decision of the supreme court in the Poole case," said Roberts.

Brucia's family and friends say they just want justice for Carlie.

"Our system is failing our victims and they need to change our system," said Langworthy.

The Poole case ruling should be decided in the next few weeks. That's when Smith's case will be reexamined.