Carlie’s Law was a bill introduced in the United States Congress by Representative Katherine Harris (R-FL), with support from Representatives Nick Lampson (D-TX) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), in response to Joseph P. Smith’s kidnapping, rape, and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Florida in February 2004. Smith had been released from state prison thirteen months before and was on probation at the time of Brucia’s murder.
The previous statute was amended to toughen parole terms for sex offenders and to alert non-custodial parents when criminal activity was detected near their child’s residence. Because of this, the child’s father, Joseph Brucia, authorized the bill in her name, even though he admits it would not have applied to her situation because the charges for which Smith was on probation were not the sexual offenses the law would target.
The bill was not passed before the 2004 legislative session ended. Harris stated that he would reintroduce the bill in 2005, but no further details have been released. On July 26, 2021, Joseph Smith, 55, was discovered dead in prison while awaiting his execution. His reason for death is still unknown.
Brucia, Carlie Jane
Carlie Jane Brucia (March 16, 1992 – February 1, 2004) was kidnapped from a car wash near her home in Sarasota, Florida, United States, and sexually assaulted and murdered by Joseph P. Smith (March 17, 1966 – July 26, 2021) on February 1, 2004, while returning from a friend’s house. Within half an hour of her kidnapping, her parents reported her missing.
After surveillance footage of the girl was released, the kidnapping case became well-known. The footage, which was captured by a security camera hidden behind a car wash, shows Brucia being approached by a guy later identified as Smith, who grabbed her arm and led her away toward a car shown on another camera. The video went viral and sparked a worldwide manhunt for the kidnapper.
Smith, a 37-year-old father of three and car mechanic with a long history of drug-related offenses, including one for kidnapping and false imprisonment, was arrested as the lead suspect on February 6. The police also confirmed that Smith’s automobile was involved in the crime in the same release.
Because Brucia’s kidnapping was captured on video by a surveillance camera, the event attracted national attention. The video shows her being contacted by a man in his late twenties or early thirties. They apparently had a brief talk before he grabbed her arm and dragged her away. In the search for Brucia and the man shown with her in the footage, the FBI and NASA teamed up. The recording was improved by NASA researchers using powerful image processing technologies to reduce image jitter.
At least two informants contacted the police after recognizing Smith from the security camera footage broadcasted on television. Smith had already been arrested on February 3 for an unrelated parole violation and was already in detention. Smith refused to talk to police about Brucia’s kidnapping until February 5, when he divulged the location of her body, which was placed behind a neighboring church.
Smith was charged with first-degree murder, as well as kidnapping and capital sexual battery, by Sarasota County prosecutors on February 20. The trial began in Sarasota on November 7, 2005. The jury found the defendant guilty on November 17, 2005. The jury returned a recommendation for the death penalty on December 1, 2005, by a vote of 10 to 2. Smith was sentenced to two periods of life in prison for capital sexual battery and kidnapping, as well as death by lethal injection for murder, on March 15, 2006.
Smith’s right to confront witnesses at trial was violated when prosecutors introduced DNA evidence against him without making available the laboratory technician who actually performed the work, according to a federal claim filed by Smith in October 2011. The United States Supreme Court (which had previously rejected Smith’s appeal in June 2011) ordered the State of Florida to respond to a federal claim filed by Smith alleging that his right to confront witnesses at trial was violated when prosecutors introduced DNA evidence against him without making available the laboratory technician who actually performed the work. After determining a related issue, Williams v. Illinois, the Court dismissed the appeal.
Smith’s death sentence was reversed in 2018 as a result of Hurst v. Florida, which required jurors in Florida to be unanimous in imposing the ” penalty; however, the Florida Supreme Court reinstated his death sentence in April 2020.
According to the state Attorney General’s Office, a man who was convicted of kidnapping, torturing, and killing an 11-year-old Florida girl as she walked home in 2004 died in jail on Monday.
Carlie Brucia’s stepfather Steven Kansler left, mother Susan Schorpen, second left, and grandmother Eileen Schorpen, right, pose behind a poster-size photograph of Brucia at the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota during the start of a memorial ceremony on Feb. 10, 2004.
On Super Bowl Sunday last year, a surveillance camera at a car wash captured this image of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia seemingly being abducted by a man in a mechanic’s uniform who stepped up and grabbed her arm as she headed home from a friend’s house. Four days later, his body was discovered hidden among the brush on the grounds of a nearby church.
“While nothing can bring Carlie back, we are grateful that her family, 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,” said State Attorney Ed Brodsky in a statement. Smith died on July 26, 2021, at the age of 55, at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.