"I lost the love of my life," Susan Schorpen, the 11-year-old girl's mother, said Monday while fighting back tears and taking deep breaths from the witness stand. "I cry for her at all hours of the day. I cry for her at night. I'm broken. I will never heal."
Outside the courthouse, she said, "I'd like him dead today."
Jurors convicted Joseph Smith, a former auto mechanic, on Nov.17 of kidnapping, sexual battery and first-degree murder. Carlie's murder received worldwide attention because her Feb. 1, 2004, abduction as she walked home from a friend's house was captured by a car wash
A former teacher, Susan Van Alstine, described Carlie as an "excellent student" who once got other students to sign a goodbye note of gratitude for her. Carlie's father, Joseph Brucia, recounted visits to an amusement park and shoe-shopping trips when his daughter visited him in Long Island, N.Y., during Christmas and the summer.
"When Carlie was taken from our family, it hurt us to the core," Brucia said. "Many times, I didn't want to go on and was close to taking my own life."
Jurors must consider aggravating circumstances that would justify a recommendation of death by lethal injection and mitigating circumstances that would persuade jurors to recommend life in prison without parole. Their vote does not have to be unanimous.
Circuit Judge Andrew Owens, who ultimately will decide the sentence, said he would consider the jurors' recommendation with "great weight."
Smith's desire to avoid arrest for the abduction and sexual battery of the girl was one of six "aggravators" that justify a recommendation of death, prosecutor Debra Riva told jurors Monday as she opened the trial's penalty phase.
Smith wanted "to eliminate Carlie as a witness," Riva said. "The defendant did not have to kill the girl."
Other aggravating circumstances include the fact that Smith was on probation for possession of cocaine at the time of the murder; he committed the murder while engaged in other crimes; the murder was "heinous, atrocious and cruel" and "cold, calculated and premeditated" and Carlie was under 12, Riva said.
But defense attorney Carolyn DaSilva asked jurors to recommend sparing Smith's life. She noted that he had battled back pain, depression and drug addiction for the past dozen years, and said relatives, friends and a drug-addiction expert would testify how "a man with good qualities could have fallen so far."
"You will hear from witnesses who can tell you about Joe's good qualities ... even though he was unable to control his drug addiction," DaSilva said. "You will hear from people who care about Joseph Smith, and that his life has value."
An alternate juror was excused Monday morning after writing the judge a letter explaining his need to be released for personal reasons. Another alternate juror also told the judge that a friend had figured out that she was on the jury, but she told the judge it wouldn't affect her rendering a recommendation.