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Carlie Brucia's killer sentenced to death

By John Springer, Court TV
Wed Mar 15, 5:34 PM ET

(Court TV) — A Florida auto mechanic was sentenced to death Wednesday for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, whose kidnapping was captured on a car wash security camera system and broadcast around the world.

Joseph Smith, 39, showed no reaction as Sarasota County Judge Andrew Owens Jr. announced that he believes Smith had "forfeited his right to live" because of "unconscionable actions."

In addition to imposing the death penalty for Carlie's murder, Owens sentenced Smith to two terms of life in prison without parole for her sexual assault and kidnapping.

"Joseph Smith, based upon your actions, you have forfeited your right to live freely among us ... and you have forfeited your right to live," said Owens, who presided over Smith's trial late last year. "For the murder of Carlie Jane Brucia, you are hereby sentenced to death. May God have mercy on your soul."

Carlie, who would have turned 14 Thursday, left a friend's house shortly after 6 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2004, to head to her home, about a mile away. It was while cutting through Evie's Car Wash that Carlie encountered a stocky man wearing a mechanic's uniform.

When Carlie failed to show up at home and police began searching for her, they discovered the car wash security camera tape and a grainy image that shocked investigators. Although there was no audio, it was clear that Carlie was being led away by a man. The media aired the video, leading to Smith's quick apprehension and arrest.

Carlie's partially nude body was discovered on the grounds of a church four days later.

Following the jury's 10-2 recommendation for death, Owens give little or no weight to Smith's claim that he suffered from a drug addiction, chronic back pain and was emotionally disturbed because his estranged wife had just informed him that she never wanted him to come home.

Owens also rejected Smith's tearful explanation in February that he was high on both cocaine and heroin on the night of the killing, and had a reaction like none he had experienced before.

Owens gave considerable weight to most of the aggravating factors cited by prosecutors. Owens agreed that the killing was particularly heinous, citing expert testimony that Carlie's death was slow and torturous.

"Perhaps worst of all, Carlie knew she was going to die," Owens said. "The defendant's actions were cold, calculated and premeditated ... He held Carlie's life in his hands, not for eight to 10 seconds, but for minutes."

Under state law, the Florida Supreme Court will automatically consider Smith's appeals.

No, he should be automatically executed. His ability to continue to breathe my air for X number of years offends me.
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