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Carlie Brucia's killer, Joseph Smith, dies in prison

His cause of death is unknown at this time, according to the state attorney's office.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Joseph Smith, the man convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota in 2004 died in prison Monday, according to a release from the state attorney's office.

His cause of death is unknown at this time, the release adds.

"While nothing can bring back Carlie, we are grateful that her family, her 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," the state attorney's office said.

Smith was on Florida's death row when he died, but was set to receive a new sentencing after a series of back-and-forth decisions in his case.

Smith's death sentence was overturned in 2018 following a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said Florida's death penalty law was unconstitutional because it allowed recommendations from juries that weren't unanimous. 

The attorney general's office in January 2020 filed a motion to reinstate Smith's death penalty, which ultimately was applied in April 2020.

But two months later, an appeal was filed by Smith and his attorney's citing several grievances with the decision which led the Florida Supreme Court to order a new sentencing to be set.

Carlie Brucia was walking home from a friend's house on Super Bowl Sunday in 2004 when investigators say Smith grabbed her behind a car wash. Her body was found behind a church three miles from where she was last seen.

The story made national headlines after the incident was caught on the car wash surveillance camera.

This is a developing story. Stay with 10 Tampa Bay for updates.

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