SA man Brian Steven Smith pleads not guilty to second murder in Alaska

22 October 2019 - 20:22 By ERNEST MABUZA
SA-born Brian Smith, who has been arrested for two murders in Alaska, has pleaded not guilty to the second murder.
SA-born Brian Smith, who has been arrested for two murders in Alaska, has pleaded not guilty to the second murder.
Image: Facebook/Brian Smith

SA-born Brian Steven Smith, accused of murdering two women in Alaska, pleaded not guilty on Monday to the murder of his second alleged victim Veronica Abouchuk.

Through his public defender, KTVA reported that Smith entered not guilty pleas to all charges in Abouchuk's killing.

Judge Michael Wolverton granted the state's request for an increased $2m (R29.5m) cash bail.

Smith, originally from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, was naturalised as a US citizen in September.

He was arrested earlier this month for the murder of another woman, Kathleen Henry, at the Midtown Marriot Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, on September 4. He has also pleaded not guilty to those charges.

He was arrested after an SD card containing photos and videos of the murder of Henry was reportedly discovered and handed over to police.

Smith was indicted on 13 counts for the two homicides. The charges include two counts of murder, and the state has added a count for the indictment for misconduct involving a corpse - which KTVA earlier reported allegedly involved sexual penetration.

A statement from the office of the attorney-general of Alaska said following the arrest of Smith for the murder of Henry, whose body was dumped near the roadway down a secluded stretch of the highway, south of the city, the Anchorage police department conducted an interview.

"During the interview, Smith admitted to shooting another female victim between 2017 and 2018.

"According to the police officers, he provided the location of her body. Earlier this year, Alaska state troopers recovered a skull with a gunshot wound from an area near the location identified by Smith. Ultimately, the second victim was able to be positively identified," the statement said.

The state of Alaska last week requested that Smith's bail be increased to $2m from the $750,000 set after the first indictment.

In its request for increased bail, the state said Smith had admitted he disposed of Henry's body along the Seward Highway.

It also alleged that Smith provided the Anchorage police with the location where he disposed of Abouchuk's body.

The state said when shown a photograph of Abouchuk, Smith admitted that she was the woman he shot.

"After he committed each murder, he dumped the bodies along the side of a road like unwanted trash. He poses a significant public safety risk, especially to the vulnerable, homeless women currently living on the streets of Anchorage," the state's bail memorandum dated October 17 read.

The state also said Smith was a significant flight risk as he came directly to Alaska from SA about five years ago.

"He has significant family ties in SA and only became a naturalised citizen of the US last month."