ANCHORAGE (AP) -- After two previous failed attempts, a jury on Tuesday convicted a Kenai man of murdering two people in 1994.
A Superior Court jury in Anchorage found Billy D. Smith guilty of the March 27, 1994, slayings of Harold Enzler, 39, of Nikiski, and Nancy Bellamy, 42, of Homer in a custody dispute. The verdict came after five days of deliberation.
In the two earlier trials, Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link declared mistrials. The first, in Kenai, was halted when a witness testified that he had taken a lie detector test as part of a plea arrangement to reduce charges relating to his own involvement in the crime. A second trial in Anchorage resulted in a hung jury.
The state's case was based on a taped confession by Smith to investigators in August 1997. He said he lured Enzler and Bellamy to Escape Route Road near Nikiski, shot them, cut up their bodies and dumped them in Cook Inlet. Smith also told investigators he dismantled the truck in which they were killed and buried its parts in numerous locations around the Kenai Peninsula.
Smith's attorney claims he confessed to get out of jail and obtain a heroin fix.
After Tuesday's guilty verdict, Smith's lawyer again said his client was coerced into making the confession.
''The major issue is whether Mr. Smith's confession should have been admitted at all in trial. We think there are a number of problems with how the confessions were obtained in this case and we'll be appealing those issues,'' Robert Herz said.
Prosecutors were unavailable for comment.
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