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Parade Of Witnesses In Brucia Case

Susan Schorpen (R), Carlie Brucia's mother, and Judy Cornett (L) speak with prosecutors during a break in the sentencing phase of Joseph Smith's murder trial November 28, 2005 in Sarasota, Florida. Smith was convicted of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in the case earlier this month. A judge and jury will decide whether Smith gets the death penalty or life in prison.
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Witnesses testifying on behalf of a man convicted of raping and murdering a Florida girl Tuesday described him as a loving father and a drug addict who wanted to kick the habit.

Joseph Smith's attorneys are trying to persuade jurors to recommend a life sentence instead of the death penalty for killing eleven-year-old Carlie Brucia. A judge will make the final decision.

As testimony for the day began wrapping up this afternoon, 13 witnesses had taken the stand to testify to Smith's character.

The same jury convicted Smith two weeks ago of convicting, raping and murdering Brucia. So far, the defense has presented a group of 13 witnesses to testify on Smith's behalf — they say that he is a decent person who had physical and emotional problems, and therefore doesn't deserve to be executed, CBS News affiliate WTSP in Tampa, Fl., reports.

Smith's "spiritual advisor" was among those speaking on his behalf.

A former baby sitter for the children of Joseph Smith described him "as a good father" who loved his children and took care of them very well.

"He would always thank me for baby sitting them," said the girl, identified only by her initials.

Carlie's case drew national attention last year after a car wash surveillance camera caught her abduction on tape.

It was unclear whether a second juvenile, described earlier in the day by Circuit Judge Andrew D. Owens as a niece of Smith, would testify.

The defense witnesses include the mother of a woman Smith dated. She says Smith treated her grandchildren as if they were his own.

A former probation officer says Smith had expressed a desire to kick his drug habit, though he never enrolled in a drug treatment program.

Assistant Public Defender Assistant Adam Tebrugge said he understood a ruling by Owens to identify the juveniles by initial only and not allow photographs of their faces, but would have preferred that they girls not be identified at all.

He said he was undecided on whether to allow both of the juveniles to testify to Smith's character.

Earlier, Carlie was described as a thoughtful, bubbly girl, an A-student who liked to sing off-key to make her mother laugh and had a fondness for shoes.