Joseph P. Smith, 39, has been charged with 11 year old Carlie Brucia's murder. He is the tattooed man in a mechanic's shirt who was seen in a car wash surveillance video leading Carlie away by the arm the evening of February 1, 2004.

Carlie was taking a shortcut home on from a friend's house at about 6:20 p.m. behind Evie's Car Wash which was closed for the day, when she was stopped by a man wearing a mechanic's shirt with a name patch on the chest. A desperate search was underway for the Florida girl. Carlie did not appear to resist her abductor, but investigators do not believe she knew him, or went with him willingly. Her parents said they did not recognize the man, who had tattoos on both forearms. The FBI worked with NASA to enhance the tape in hopes of lifting more clues.

Smith has been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993 and convicted of drug possession and other charges. He was arrested in 1997 in Manatee County on kidnapping and false imprisonment charges but was acquitted a year later.

Bloodhounds led deputies to the business, and car wash owner Mike Evanoff checked the security system video. The images of Carlie popped up almost immediately. According to records released by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, in the 1997 kidnapping case, a 20 year old woman in Bradenton said a man grabbed her as she walked by and tried to pull her away. The woman said, He got on top of me and told me to shut up or he would cut me. After a struggle she managed to run into the street and passengers in an approaching van stopped and rescued her. Smith, found hiding behind a house by a police tracking dog, was acquitted by jurors after telling them he was trying to keep the woman from running into the street and she misunderstood.

According to a new report, Smith borrowed a car from his roommate the day he allegedly kidnapped and murdered Carlie and handed the vehicle over 16 hours later, with signs of a violent struggle.  He returned the car with 300 more miles on the odometer, smudge marks on the back windows and scuff marks on the front seat.  When Smith's roommate and friend, Jeffrey Pincus, got his car back he asked him what had happened, but Smith really didn't have an answer.  

Smith's ex-wife thinks he's guilty and hopes he gets the death penalty.  I believe it was him, Julie Streeter told the TV program Inside Edition.  When she was asked if Smith should be executed, she replied, Yes, I do.  That is the most disgusting, heinous crime anybody could ever commit.

Carlie's dad, Joseph Brucia, said the death of his daughter has given him special insight into what the family of a 13 year old Brentwood girl, who was reportedly abducted and sexually assaulted recently, is likely going through.  When he first read newspaper accounts of the Brentwood girl's ordeal, describing how a man pulled her into a wooded area as she walked home, then groped and severely beat her, Brucia realized an idea he had been mulling needed to become a reality.  He created the Carlie Brucia Rescue Fund to help families cope with expenses after something similar happens to their children.  I think some people could really be helped.  I think Carlie would like it, and it'll be good therapy for me, he said.  Donations can be sent to the Carlie Brucia Rescue Fund, c/o the Ross Strent Co., 125 Mineola Ave., Roslyn Heights, N.Y., 11577.

Bruchia sat among state lawmakers and quietly offered suggestions on changing the law so that repeat sex offenders could stay confined longer.  This is something that needs a lot more attention, he said.  Such crimes should be enough provocation for anyone to take up the cause and fight for longer sentences and civil confinement.  Brucia spoke at a roundtable discussion supporting a proposal for the civil confinement of sex offenders beyond their prison sentences.  Assembly Republicans have called for the measure annually for more than a decade without success.  Civil confinement, as proposed by lawmakers, calls for the most serious and violent sex offenders who have completed their prison sentence to be kept in a secure setting for the mentally ill.  It must first be proven in a legal forum that they are dangerous and can't control their sexual impulses. Similar laws exist in 16 states, including Florida, and the US Supreme Court has upheld such statutes.

Brucia traveled to Albany to support a state Senate bill that would provide for civil commitment in secure psychiatric facilities of sexually violent predators after they've completed their prison sentences.  He also met with Governor Pataki, who support the legislation.

Smith was convicted on November 17, 2005 and jurors recommended the death penalty on December 1.  

Jurors deliberated five hours before arriving at their recommendation, voting 10 to 2 for the death penalty.

On February 14, 2006, Smith apologized for the abduction, rape and murder of Carlie, telling a judge he had taken large amounts of cocaine and heroin that day in hopes of killing himself.  Smith told the judge, who will sentence him to death or life in prison, I do not ask for mercy for myself.  The only thing I can see to give me a life sentence is for my family. I do not want to see them hurt any further.

Under Florida law, the judge must give the jury's death sentence recommendation great weight.

Smith was sentenced to death on March 15.

(Sarasota, Florida)