November 6, 2015 / 12:12 AM / 5 years ago

Ex-NFL player Anthony Wayne Smith convicted on three counts of murder

LANCASTER, Calif. (Reuters) - A Southern California jury on Thursday convicted former Oakland Raiders defensive end Anthony Wayne Smith on three counts of first-degree murder, but the judge declared a mistrial for a fourth count.

The 48-year-old onetime National Football League star, whose original trial in one of the killings ended in a hung jury, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The defendant sat quietly next to his lawyer as he listened to a Los Angeles County Superior Court clerk announce the verdict.

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

The convictions stem from the November 1999 slayings of brothers Kevin and Ricky Nettles, who were abducted from a car wash and found fatally shot the next day, and the June 2001 beating and stabbing death of Dennis Henderson.

The jury also found Smith guilty of special allegations of torture and kidnapping in the three slayings for which he was convicted.

“Justice will be served,” Alicia Tribble, a sister-in-law of the Nettles brothers, said after the verdict was read. “All my nieces and nephews will have some closure. We won’t bring them back, but at least the person who is responsible will pay for what he has done.”

The jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of a guilty verdict on a fourth count of murder stemming from the October 2008 killing of an associate, Maurilio Ponce, who was found shot to death on a roadside. Because the panel failed to reach the unanimous decision required for a verdict in criminal cases, the judge declared a mistrial for that count.

A separate jury in 2012 split 8-4 in favor of a guilty verdict in the Ponce death, leading to a first mistrial.

Prosecutors said they would decide in December whether to retry Smith again in that case.

Reporting by Olga Grigoryants; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Eric Walsh

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