Former Oakland Raiders defensive end charged in four slayings
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Oakland Raiders defensive end Anthony Wayne Smith, whose murder trial stemming from a 2008 shooting death ended in a hung jury, was charged this week with three more Los Angeles County slayings from several years earlier.
The new criminal complaint, filed on Monday, charges Smith, 43, with a total of four counts of first-degree murder, incorporating the original case against him and the kidnap-killings of three other men - one in 1999 and two in 2001.
Special allegations listed in the complaint say the three earlier victims were tortured before being killed.
An arraignment has been set for July 17 on the new charges, and Smith remains held without bond, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Sandi Gibbons, said on Thursday.
Smith's lawyer, Michael Evans, said his client would plead not guilty to all the charges and that the new criminal complaint came as a "surprise to all of us."
Smith, a first-round 1990 draft pick of the Raiders, then based in Los Angeles, and an 11th pick overall for the National Football League that year, played all seven seasons of his NFL career for the Raiders, first in Los Angeles and then in Oakland.
Evans said he was informed of the new charges just 45 minutes before jury selection was set to begin on Monday in the retrial of the original case charging Smith with murder in the October 2008 slaying of an associate named Maurilio Ponce.
The first jury deadlocked 8-to-4 in favor of a guilty verdict, leading to a mistrial.
The latest felony complaint charges Smith with three additional counts of first-degree murder in connection with the November 1999 slayings of brothers Kevin and Ricky Nettles, and the June 2001 killing of Dennis Henderson.
According to Gibbons, the Nettles brothers were abducted from a car wash in Los Angeles by two individuals posing as police officers and were found shot to death the next day.
About 19 months later, Henderson and another man, Terry Ware, were kidnapped in Los Angeles by several armed suspects, placed in separate cars and driven away. Ware was freed but Henderson's body was found in the back of a rental car the next day. He had been beaten and stabbed to death, Gibbons said.
Gibbons said she had no further information about a possible motive or circumstances behind the killings. She said prosecutors would decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Smith. Homicide detectives assigned to the case were not immediately available for comment.
Smith was charged in February 2011 along with two other men in connection with the slaying of Ponce, who was found shot to death on a remote roadside in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles, on October 7, 2008.
The defense has acknowledged that Smith and Ponce were once involved together in a cargo theft, and that Smith was seen driving Ponce's car a month after he was slain.
But Evans has insisted that his client had nothing to do with Ponce's murder and argued during the trial that police lacked any physical evidence, such as DNA, fingerprints or gunpowder residue, linking him to the crime.
He said Ponce had given Smith his car when Ponce stopped being able to make payments on it.
Evans said he could not comment in detail about the three additional slayings because he had not yet seen evidence that prosecutors will be required to share with him.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)
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