ANCHORAGE -- After three and one-half days of jury selection, attorneys presented opening arguments in Anchorage Thursday in the third trial of accused murderer Billy D. Smith.
Mistrials were declared in the case twice last fall by Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link.
Smith is accused of mur-dering Harold Enzler, 39, of Nikiski, and
Nancy Bel-lamy, 42, of Homer, March 27, 1994, dismembering their bodies and dumping them in Cook Inlet. Their bodies were never found.
Smith was convicted in October of tampering with physical evidence, namely their bodies, and with dismantling the truck in which the couple was allegedly shot to death on an isolated road in Nikiski. However, an Anchorage jury was unable to agree on whether he was guilty of the murders.
Because of the hung jury, a mistrial was declared.
An earlier trial in Kenai also ended in a mistrial when one witness testified he had taken a lie detector test as part of a plea arrangement to reduce charges relating to his own involvement in the crime.
Polygraph test results are not admissible as evidence in Alaska courts, and the defense attorney argued that when the witness said he agreed to taking the test and later was given a deal, he led jurors to
believe what he said.
Defense attorney Robert Herz said the jurors would believe the witness was a truthful person, and the planned defense had been to undermine the reliability of the witness' testimony as well as the testimony of other state witnesses.
A jury of eight men and six women Thursday listened to assistant district attorney John Wolfe once again allege that Smith lured Enzler and Bellamy to the remote Escape Route Road in Nikiski on the night of Palm Sunday in 1994, with the help of Bruce Brown and Dennis "Ray J" Johnson, with the promise of picking up some hidden drugs.
According to the state prosecutor, Smith was romantically involved with Harold Enzler's ex-wife Mimi at the time and the Enzlers were in a heated dispute over custody of their 3-year-old son, Francis.
Smith's motive for killing Harold Enzler was to help Mimi keep her son, Wolfe said. Smith killed Bellamy, who was living with Enzler at the time, because Smith believed she was helping police arrest drug dealers on the Kenai Peninsula, according to Wolfe.
He said Smith confessed to the crimes in August 1997 after Smith was arrested in Anchorage for possession of cocaine.
"At the conclusion of this case, the state is going to ask you to find this man accountable for these crimes," said Wolfe, pointing to the
Herz told jurors Smith's confession was a false confession and the
state had no other evidence to prove Smith's guilt.
"There's no DNA, no bullets ... no guns were ever found," said Herz.
He told the jurors that Smith was withdrawing from a heroin addiction after he was arrested in 1997 and told police he would cooperate with their investigation into peninsula drug dealings in exchange for being released from jail.
"He wants to get out of jail. He wants to get a fix. He's willing to say almost anything to make that happen," Herz said.
Herz also pointed to Mimi Enzler as having a motive because of the child-custody issue over Francis Enzler.
"If Mr. Smith has that motive, Mimi has that motive times 10," Herz said.
Herz told the jury that Johnson and Brown, who were originally charged with the murders along with Smith, received deals from the state in exchange for their cooperation in the Smith case.
Johnson eventually served one year for tampering with evidence and Brown was sentenced to five years for two charges of evidence tampering.
Referring to Wolfe's opening statement, Herz told jurors the story
they just heard is disturbing.
"But what is most disturbing is the state cut the deal with the wrong person," Herz said.
"I suggest to you that the evidence is not going to be sufficient.
"We're going to ask you to acquit and find Mr. Smith not guilty on all counts," Herz said.
Testimony by witnesses was scheduled to begin today at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 305 of the Nesbett Courthouse.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.