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Convicted killer of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia dies in prison

Carlie Brucia's kidnapping was caught on surveillance footage
Carlie Brucia's kidnapping was caught on surveillance footage(Sarasota County Sheriff's Office via WWSB)
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 11:48 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Joseph Smith, the convicted killer of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia has died in prison.

Carlie Brucia was found dead after being kidnapped from a car wash on Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota near her home Feb. 1, 2004, while returning from a friend’s house. She was reported missing by her parents within half an hour of her abduction.

State Attorney Ed Brodsky announced Smith died on Death Row Monday. ‘While nothing can bring back Carlie, we are grateful that her family, her friends, and the entire Sarasota community will finally have closure and will not have to endure any further court proceedings to bring Smith to justice,” Brodsky was quoted in a news release.

The kidnapping case garnered national attention, when surveillance video showed Carlie being grabbed by a man, later identified as Smith. The video prompted a massive manhunt for the abductor.

Six days later, Smith, an auto mechanic with a history of drug arrests, was identified as the main suspect. After interrogation, police found Carlie’s body behind a local church.

A year later, Smith was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and capital sexual battery, and the death sentence for the murder.

His case resurfaced in May, when the Florida Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Smith after Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office acknowledged in a court filing that Smith should be resentenced because the U.S. Supreme Court found Florida’s death-penalty system unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries, in imposing death sentences.

Smith was also suspected in the 2000 murder of 25-year-old Tara Reilly, who was found lying dead and naked in a pond behind Walmart on Cortez Road in Bradenton. That case has never been solved.

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