Sports News

Verdicts reached in murder trial of ex-NFL player Anthony Wayne Smith

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Southern California jury has reached verdicts in the murder retrial of former Oakland Raiders defensive end Anthony Wayne Smith, but a judge sealed the decision until later this week because two jurors were traveling.

The jurors, who began deliberating in the case on Oct. 21, told a judge on Friday they had reached a decision, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Chung said.

“We couldn’t read them on Friday because the defense attorney was out of town and this week, two jurors (are) out of town,” he said.

Smith, 48, whose original trial in one of the slayings ended in a hung jury, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

The former professional football player is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, including a 2008 killing of which he was originally accused, as well as allegations that include the torture and kidnapping of three other victims - two in 1999 and one in 2001.

The case was turned over to jurors following closing arguments in which the defense asserted a lack of DNA and other physical evidence linking Smith to the slayings. Prosecutors countered that circumstantial evidence in the case was overwhelming.

Smith did not take the witness stand during the three-week-plus trial. He has remained in custody without bail since his arrest in 2011.

Smith, a first-round 1990 draft pick of the Raiders and an 11th pick overall for the National Football League that year, played all seven seasons of his pro career for the Raiders, first in Los Angeles and then in Oakland.

He was charged in 2011 with two other men in connection with the slaying of an associate, Maurilio Ponce, found shot to death on a roadside in October 2008.

The defense acknowledged Smith and Ponce had been involved in a cargo theft and that Smith was seen driving the victim’s car after he was slain, but insisted the defendant had nothing to do with Ponce’s killing.

A jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of a guilty verdict against Smith, leading to a mistrial.

A subsequent felony complaint charged Smith with the November 1999 slayings of brothers Kevin and Ricky Nettles, kidnapped from a car wash and found fatally shot the next day, and the June 2001 beating and stabbing death of Dennis Henderson.

Reporting by Olga Grigoryants; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney