Rayne Perrywinkle raised her firsts above her shoulders and quickly thrust them inward, curling into herself with emotion. Donald James Smith, a 61-year-old sex offender who was out of jail all of three weeks when he lured her 8-year-old daughter away with him at a Walmart, would never walk among the free again.

Perrywinkle cried on the shoulder of a victim’s advocate, one of the few constants in her life since losing Cherish Perrywinkle nearly five years ago.

In a matter of 15 minutes Wednesday afternoon, a jury of eight women and four men found Smith guilty of first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping. Jurors were told to report back to the Duval County Courthouse Tuesday morning to begin the penalty phase.

They will have two choices: Smith will either spend the rest of his life in prison or he will be sentenced to death provided 12 jurors agree to that. It used to be that in Florida a judge decided life or death based on a majority recommendation of the jury. That’s all changed now.

During the penalty phase attorneys from both sides will present evidence, but instead of proof of guilt or innocence being the goal the focus will be on the appropriate punishment: Does Smith deserve life or death?

Family members of Cherish will be able to explain to the jury the impact her death had on them. The phase also give Smith’s defense attorneys a chance to ask for leniency and present evidence as to why his life should be spared. Smith’s family, friends, perhaps a psychologist will also have an opportunity to speak on his behalf. Smith too may testify.

He chose not to testify Tuesday after the state rested its case. When it came time for the defense to present its case, there was none. Julie Schlax, an experienced death-penalty attorney rose from her seat and said, we rest your honor, continuing along the same vein as earlier in the week when there was little cross-examination of witnesses by the defense.

Smith himself made a decision about cross-examination Monday when he told the judge he didn’t want his attorneys to question Perrywinkle when it was their turn during cross-examination. Perrywinkle, he said, had already been through enough.

All of that as odd as it seemed, may have been a defense strategy.

“I would assume there’s a lot more going into the case than people would understand or even see. It might look weird when you’re watching it, like why aren’t they doing anything, but there’s an end game here,” said attorney Rich Sichta.

Sichta, who handles death-penalty appeals in Jacksonville, often has to look at cases and determine if the defense’s trial strategy made sense. Sometimes, he said, it can make sense for the defense to plead not guilty but then not put forward any arguments during the guilt phase.

“In some cases what the defense tries to do is to remain credible with the jury because if you’re trying to argue there’s some kind of issue here where first-degree murder doesn’t apply or there shouldn’t be a conviction, and the evidence doesn’t match what you’re saying, then you’ve just ruined your credibility with the jury.”

He said defendants who have tried pleading guilty in death-penalty cases have had very little luck at persuading a jury not to sentence them to death. When a defendant instead pleads not guilty — as Smith did — Sichta said, the jury can feel vindicated that they convicted the man, even if they choose to sentence him to life instead of death. When a defendant pleads guilty, he said, the jury might feel they can only vindicate the victim if they sentence the man to death.

“I think the minimization that they’re doing here is maybe strategic in regards to the penalty phase and I would imagine them … spending a lot more time in the penalty phase than in the guilt phase. We didn’t ever say he was not guilty. We didn’t lie to you.”

During Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel’s closings, he briefly looked away from the jury and turned to face Smith: “He looks like a harmless old man. Little did she know what lurked beneath the surface.”

Smith was relatively emotionless during the trial. At the end of the 37-minute closing statement by Caliel, Smith rushed his hands over his face, rose from his seat and headed toward an armed guard who stood near a door that ushers him back to solitary confinement at the jail.

In its case, the state proved that Smith convinced Perrywinkle and her daughters to join him at a Walmart so he could buy them some food and clothes. He spoke of a job that in reality he didn’t have and a wife that he also didn’t have. He said his wife would bring a gift card. He lured Cherish away from her mother by saying they were going to the front of the store to McDonald’s.

“Get me a cheeseburger,” Perrywinkle shouted, uttering her very last words to her daughter.

Police arrived at the Walmart at 11:19 p.m. June 21, 2013. The search for a man named Don with a white van was on. The next day Smith was spotted driving on Interstate 95. While ordering him to the ground, they noticed he was drenched from the waist down.

“She’s in the water,” Officer Charlie Wilke called out.

Cherish was found in a watery grave. Her anatomy was unrecognizable but he left his genetic fingerprint inside her, Caliel said.

“From the grave she is crying out to you,” Caliel told the jurors as he was finishing his closing arguments. “Donald Smith raped me. Donald Smith sodomized me. Donald Smith strangled me until every last breath left my body.”