The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly.  This information; however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes. 


SMITH, Joseph P. (W/M)

DC# 899500

DOB: 03/17/66


­­­Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Sarasota County Case # 04-02129

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Andrew Owens

Attorney, Trial: Adam Tebrugge – Public Defender’s Office

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Deborah K. Brueckheimer – Public Defender’s Office


Date of Offense: 02/01/04

Date of Sentence: 03/15/06


Circumstances of Offense:


On 02/01/04, Carlie Brucia, an 11 year-old female, left her friend’s house at approximately 6:00 p.m. to walk home. The friend’s mother called Carlie’s mother to make sure Carlie had permission to walk home alone. She was not allowed to do so; therefore, her stepfather came to pick her up, but she had already left. A call to 911 was made around 7:30 p.m. after they could not locate Carlie. Around noon the following day, a bloodhound found Carlie’s scent behind a car wash, but the scent could not be detected beyond that area. Motion-sensitive cameras outside the car wash revealed that Carlie was taken away from the car wash at 6:21 p.m. by a man dressed in a mechanic’s uniform.


An Amber Alert was issued and a video of the abduction was released on the evening of 02/02/04. The next morning the wife of a former business associate of Smith recognized the man in the video as Smith. Her husband also confirmed that it looked like Smith. They called the police and directed Detective Vincent Riva to Smith’s current address.


Riva and his partner went to Smith’s address where they were met by two other officers. A neighbor informed them that someone was in the residence; however, no one answered the door. Since a call to Riva’s supervisor revealed that Smith was on probation, Smith’s probation officer was called to the scene. After the officers had waited 40 minutes to enter the residence, Smith’s sister arrived and said she would get her brother.


Smith exited the house and was interrogated regarding his whereabouts during the time Carlie had been abducted. He stated he had not been near the car wash on 02/01/04. When showed a picture of the man at the car wash with Carlie, he said it looked like him, but was not him.


As the police performed a search on Smith’s car, the owner of the house where Smith lived arrived. She stated that Smith was talking on the phone with his wife around 6:30 p.m. on 02/01/04. This information “temporarily cleared” Smith, because it established an alibi. Later that day, however, the husband of the woman who established Smith’s alibi informed the detectives that she provided the wrong information. Smith was not talking on the phone around 6:30. Smith had actually borrowed their yellow station wagon around 3 p.m. on 02/01/04 and did not return it until approximately 7 a.m. the following day. He also confirmed that the man in the car wash video was Smith. Smith was subsequently arrested.


On the evening of 02/04/04, FBI agents interviewed Smith’s brother, John Smith. He said he had received a call from Smith on the night of the abduction, but did not speak with him. The next evening, John and his girlfriend saw the car wash video that showed the abduction and recognized Smith in the video. Smith showed up at their house that evening around 11 p.m., supposedly under the influence of drugs. His brother did not allow him to come in.


On 02/05/04, Smith met with John and their mother in a interview room provided by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Afterwards, John commented that Smith came close to confessing. John called the FBI agent later that evening after he received a call from Smith. Smith had provided him with information about Carlie’s murder. John directed two FBI agents to an area behind a local church where they should look for a body. Smith called John while the agents were at the church and confirmed that Carlie’s body was approximately 50 yards from a group of concrete blocks in the field. Carlie’s body was eventually found in a wooded area in the field, lying on her back and naked below the waist, with the exception of a sock on her right foot. There was a deep ligature mark visible on her neck.


John spoke on the phone with Smith later that night. Smith admitted to having sexual contact with Carlie before he strangled her. The Sarasota County medical examiner confirmed that Carlie died of strangulation and had been sexually battered beforehand. The FBI found DNA evidence on Carlie’s shirt that matched Smith. Also, two of her head hairs were found in the yellow station wagon that Smith had borrowed.




Additional Information:


Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:


Prior Prison History: (Note: Data reflected covers periods of incarceration with the Florida Dept.of Corrections since January of 1983)

Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Prison Sentence Length






1Y 4M 24D






1Y 4M 24D






1Y 4M 24D






1Y 4M 24D




Trial Summary:


02/20/04          Indicted as follows:

                                    Count I:           Cocaine Possession

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder (Carlie Brucia)

                                    Count III:        Sexual Battery

                                    Count IV:        Kidnapping

11/17/05          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment.

12/01/05          Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2.

03/15/06          Sentenced as follows:

                                    Count I:           Cocaine Possession – 5 years

                                    Count II:         First-Degree Murder (Carlie Brucia) – Death

                                    Count III:        Sexual Battery – Life

                                    Count IV:        Kidnapping – Life


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 06-747

28 So.3d 838


04/20/06          Appeal filed

01/07/09          Oral Arguments held

12/17/09          FSC affirmed conviction and sentence

12/31/09          Motion for Rehearing filed

02/18/10          Motion for Rehearing denied

03/08/10          Mandate issued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC# 09-10755



05/10/10          Petition filed






Case Information:

On 04/20/06, Smith filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following issues: (1) the appellant’s federal constitutional right to confront was violated when the State was allowed to introduce DNA lab results without the testimony of the person who conducted the tests and obtained the results, (2) the trial court erred in allowing the medical examiner to give an opinion that was beyond his competence and invaded the province of the jury as to whether the victim had been sexually assaulted, (3) the trial court erred in not suppressing the appellant’s brother’s statements concerning the appellant’s statements because the brother was acting as an agent of the State, (4) the trial court erred in denying the appellant’s counsel’s challenges for cause, (5) the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce gruesome and shocking photographs that had no or little relevance, (6) the trial court erred when it impermissibly doubled the following sentencing aggravators: the murder was committed during the course of the felony of sexual battery on a child under 12 and the murder was committed on a victim under 12, (7) the aggravator of the victim being under 12 years old is unconstitutional, (8) the trial court erred in finding the aggravating factor that the murder was committed in order to avoid arrest, (9) the trial court erred in finding the aggravating factor that the murder was “cold, calculated, and premeditated,” (10) the trial court erred in ruling that the State could cross-examine the appellant’s mother and sister on highly prejudicial and irrelevant acts that occurred between the appellant and his sister, if the mother and/or sister testified on behalf of the appellant at the penalty phase, (11) the trial court erred in refusing to allow the appellant the Right of Allocution Before the Jury after the jury asked about the appellant making a statement of allocution, (12) Section 775.051, Fla Statute (2003), which abolished the defense of voluntary intoxication and excludes evidence of a defendant’s voluntary intoxication under some but not all circumstances, violates due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and (13) Florida’s capital sentencing scheme, which emphasized the role of the circuit judge over the trial jury in the decision to impose a sentence of death, is unconstitutional under Ring V. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002).  Oral Arguments were held on 01/07/09. The Florida State Supreme Court affirmed Smith’s conviction and sentence on 12/17/09. Smith filed a Motion for Rehearing on 12/31/09, and it was denied on 02/18/10. A mandate was issued on 03/08/10.


A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed in the United States Supreme Court on 05/10/10. This case is pending.



Institutional Adjustment:

Information unavailable at this time.



Report Date:   01/14/10          EMJ

Approved:       01/14/10          RM

Updated:         05/25/10          EMJ