JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Donald Smith was charged with kidnapping and killing of a little girl, Cherish Perrywinkle, over the weekend.
Smith is a sexual offender with an extensive criminal record.
Richard Kuritz, an attorney who has prosecuted sex crimes, looked through Smith's criminal past and said Smith was very close to being classified as a sexual predator.
Kuritz said he has also defended sexual criminals.
The difference between sexual offenders and predators deals partly with the severity of the crimes committed, according to Kuritz.
"If it's a sexual violent offense on a child, then you'll be listed as a sexual predator," Kuritz said.
Because sexual predators have committed violent sexual crimes on children, there are more restrictions about where they can live in proximity to playgrounds, day cares and schools.
Authorities alert neighbors about predators but not offenders.
"With a predator, basically [authorities] put the neighborhood on notice," Kuritz said.
Sexual offenders are people who've committed sexual crimes that aren't as violent, according to Kuritz.
However, Kuritz said a sexual offender can be re-classified as a predator if he commits more than one lesser sexual crime.
"They would require two convictions on two different dates to become a predator," Kuritz explained.
As Kuritz looked through Smith's background, he said Smith came close to being classified as a predator.
"In 1977 he had a lewd assault on a child which would be number 1," Kuritz explained. "And then number 2, in 1998 he had a lewd and lascivious behavior conviction, but it doesn't say on a minor. So I was thinking that could qualify him for a bump up, but not necessarily with these facts."
In the end, Kuritz believes Smith's classification may not have saved little Cherish Perrywinkle because the alleged crime started in a public store.
"It's not a situation like when people in the community didn't know about it because of the notification aspect," Kurtiz said. "Because the people at the Walmart would not have been on notice, I don't think in this case, it would've mattered."
First Coast News