A former mechanic convicted of raping and murdering 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, whose abduction was caught on a car wash security camera, was sentenced to death Wednesday for her murder.
The jury that convicted Joseph P. Smith recommended that he be executed, and the judge agreed. Smith, 39, showed no emotion Wednesday as Judge Andrew Owens read the official sentence.
Last month, Smith had tearfully apologized during a hearing, saying: “I take responsibility of my crimes. I don’t understand how this could have happened. ... Every day I think about what I did and beg God for forgiveness.”
He said he had taken heroin and cocaine in an attempt to kill himself before he abducted Carlie in 2004. Smith said he didn’t remember much about that day and asked Owens to spare him for the sake of his family. His attorney, Adam Tebrugge, argued that Smith could lead a productive life in prison and be a positive influence on his three daughters if he were spared.
Owens discounted those arguments Wednesday. He said Carlie suffered “unspeakable terror and physical suffering” at Smith’s hands.
Body found on church grounds
Carlie’s body was found four days after her disappearance on the grounds of a Sarasota church. News of the crime shook the community, and hundreds turned out for memorial services.
Carlie’s stepfather, Steven Kansler, buried his face in his hands as Owens read details of the crimes before sentencing Smith.
“I thought I’d feel a lot different,” Kansler said afterward. “But it still hurts. It doesn’t change anything. I just feel that Carlie has been heard. Her soul is gone now. Now it’s just a matter of time to wait to watch Joe Smith die.”
Absent from the courtroom was Carlie’s mother, Susan Schorpen, who is in jail in Pinellas County on drug and prostitution charges. She has said the pain of losing her daughter led her to institutionalize herself three times and take drugs to numb the pain.