April 21st, 2024

Alaska man found guilty of first-degree murder in violent killing captured on stolen memory card

By Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press on February 22, 2024.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A man who recorded the violent death of an Alaska Native woman on his cellphone was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder on Thursday in her death and that of another Alaska Native woman.

Brian Steven Smith, a 52-year-old from South Africa, showed no reaction in court and stared ahead as the judge read the jury’s verdict. He was arrested after a woman stole his cell phone from his truck and discovered the gruesome footage from 2019. The woman, a sex worker who became a key witness during the trial in Anchorage, then copied the footage to a memory card and ultimately turned it over to police, prosecutors said.

Smith later confessed to killing another Alaska Native woman whose body had been found earlier but had been misidentified.

Smith was found guilty of all 14 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kathleen Henry in 2019 and Veronica Abouchuk, either in 2018 or 2019. If convicted, he would serve a life sentence. Alaska does not have the death penalty.

The three-week trial featured graphic and violent video that was shown only to jurors, but audio played for those in the gallery.

The jury had deliberated for less than two hours.

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