Jury recommends death for child killer
Victim's mother: 'He couldn't be dead fast enough for me'
Joseph Smith listens Thursday as the jury recommends that he be sentenced to death.
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(CNN) -- A Florida jury voted 10-2 Thursday to recommend that Joseph P. Smith should be put to death for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl.
Prosecutor Debra Riva argued that Smith, 39, should receive the death penalty for the killing of Carlie Brucia, whom he kidnapped from a car wash parking lot February 1, 2004, as the youngster was walking home from a friend's house.
The case drew national attention after a security camera showed Brucia being led away by a man in a blue shirt. Her body was found five days later, just miles from where she was last seen. (Hear reaction to jury's decision)
Brucia's mother, Susan Schorpen, broke into tears after hearing the jury's decision and hugged several people in the courtroom, including members of the prosecution. (Watch the jury hand down its decision -- 1:12)
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse in Sarasota, Schorpen said she was pleased with the decision, but she expressed distress that the justice system would allow Smith so many appeals before being executed.
"It should happen today. It's not going to, but it's a step in the right direction," she said. "He couldn't be dead fast enough for me. I want him dead. I want him dead now."
Asked if it mattered whether Smith was put to death or spent the rest of his life behind bars, Schorpen firmly stated, "My daughter's not breathing. She'll never breathe again. I can never hold her again. I've got to wait for appeals before, you know, he dies? It matters to me."
At one point during Riva's closing arguments Thursday, a man yelled out a similar sentiment: "Let's string him up now." The man was removed from the courtroom and later charged with a misdemeanor, Sarasota police said.
Smith, a former auto mechanic and father of three daughters, was convicted November 17 of kidnapping, first-degree murder and sexual battery. It took the jury five hours to return the verdicts. (Full story)
Smith pleaded not guilty to all three counts, but his brother, John, tearfully testified that Smith confessed to him that he had "rough sex" with the girl before strangling her.
Before Thursday's deliberations, defense attorney Adam Tebrugge asked jurors to recommend life in prison for Smith.
He also asked the judge if Smith could address the jury, a request Sarasota County Circuit Judge Andrew Owens denied because it would have required cross-examination. Smith did not testify during the trial.
Though it will be up to Owens to decide whether Smith will go to the death chamber, he noted before sequestering the jurors that it is rare for a judge to reject a jury's recommendation.
Smith did not appear to react after hearing the jury's decision. He shook his lawyer's hand before a bailiff handcuffed him and led him away.
Riva told reporters the jury's action was "a just recommendation" and one "we were all hoping to achieve."
She declined to comment further because evidence must be presented before the judge determines whether to accept the jury's recommendation. No date has been set for that hearing, she said.
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