LANCASTER – Former Raiders defensive end Anthony Wayne Smith has been ordered to stand trial on murder charges stemming from four killings nearly a decade apart. After a four-day preliminary hearing, a judge in Lancaster found sufficient evidence to require the 45-year-old Smith to proceed to trial for the murders Kevin and Ricky Nettles on Nov. 10, 1999, the murder of Dennis Henderson on June 25, 2001, and the murder of Maurilio Ponce on Oct. 7, 2008.
Smith is being held without bail pending arraignment on Oct. 29. Prosecutors have not yet decided if they’ll seek the death penalty.
Smith had already been tried for the 2008 death of Maurilio Ponce, a mechanic found stomped, beaten and shot along a Southern California desert highway in what prosecutors called a business deal gone wrong.
A jury deadlocked 8-4 in April in favor of guilt, and in July while awaiting retrial, Smith was charged with the other murders.
Kevin and Ricky Nettles were kidnapped from a car wash in Los Angeles by two men posing as police officers, and later were found shot to death, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. The victims’ bodies were dumped about eight miles apart from one another.
Henderson was kidnapped by several gunmen. According to reports, Henderson, whose brother lived next door to Smith, was found beaten and stabbed to death in a rental car. It has not yet been verified if Smith also had a connection to the Nettles brothers.
Investigators believe that all of the murders were initial robberies. Smith also faces three counts of kidnapping, and along with special circumstances because the victims were tortured, is eligible for the death penalty.
By Juliana D. Norwood
Special to the NNPA from Our Weekly