An Anchorage jury Tuesday found Billy D. Smith guilty of the 1994 murders of Harold Enzler and Nancy Bellamy.
After deliberating since Friday morning, the jury of seven men and five women found Smith guilty of two counts of murder.
In a previous trial, Smith was convicted of three counts of tampering with physical evidence, namely the bodies of Enzler and Bellamy and the truck in which they were shot to death. Their bodies were never found.
Smith had been charged with killing the couple on an isolated road in Nikiski, dismembering their bodies and dumping them in Cook Inlet and dismantling the truck, hiding parts in numerous locations around the Kenai Peninsula.
"I'm really grateful for the jury's courage," said assistant district attorney John Wolfe after the verdict was announced Tuesday.
"Because of their hard work, a very dangerous person is no longer walking the streets of the community.
"A lot of people worked very hard on this case, especially Chuck Kopp. His interrogation skills helped ensure this very dangerous person will no longer be walking the streets," Wolfe said.
Kopp, now Kenai's police chief, was a police investigator who aided in questioning Smith when his confession was obtained in 1997.
"I truly appreciate that the Kenai District Attorney's office had the perseverance in this case to see that justice was done," Kopp said.
"It's very easy, especially in a 'no body' case, to simply say we tried, and walk away," he said.
"I can't thank them enough for the job they did."
Smith confessed to the crimes in August 1997, but later said his confession was false. Smith's defense attorney Robert Herz had argued that Smith confessed in order to get out of jail to get a much needed heroin fix.
Smith had been in jail in Anchorage on an unrelated drug charge and believed he would be released if he cooperated with police investigating other drug dealings on the peninsula, according to his attorney.
After the verdict Tuesday, Herz said, "We're disappointed.
"We do know that the jury worked real hard to reach their verdict, and we appreciate that," Herz said.
Asked if the defense would appeal the decision, Herz said, "Absolutely. There's no question about it.
"All along, there's been a lot of litigation over whether the confession should have even been allowed for court purposes. We'll certainly appeal over that.
"Mr. Smith has vowed he will take it right up as far as he needs to through the state appellate courts," said Herz.
During the nearly four-week trial, witnesses testified to various events of March 27, 1994, the night of the murders, and several days immediately following the killings.
Jurors learned that Mimi Enzler, ex-wife of Harold Enzler, was Smith's girlfriend. The Enzlers were involved in a custody fight over their 3-year-old son, Francis, at the time of the murders. The jury also was told that Smith disliked Bellamy, believing she was working with authorities looking into Smith's drug business.
According to testimony and Smith's taped confession, which was played in court, Smith arranged to have Bruce Brown drive Enzler and Bellamy to Escape Route Road in Nikiski supposedly to get some drugs.
Dennis "Ray J" Johnson accompanied Smith as a backup for the supposed drug deal, but when Brown and the couple arrived, Smith went up to their truck, shot them as they sat inside the cab and went about covering the evidence.
Over the next couple days, Smith cut up the bodies and, with the help of Johnson, loaded the bodies into a boat near Homer and dumped them far out in the inlet.
Brown, Johnson and Smith then dismantled the truck in which the couple was shot and hid its parts in numerous locations around the peninsula.
Brown and Johnson have both served time for their involvement in tampering with physical evidence.
In his confession, Smith told authorities he threw the murder weapon in a lake. The gun was never found.
With no bodies, no weapon and no bullets, the investigation into the disappearance of Enzler and Bellamy was stymied until Smith's arrest and subsequent confession three years later.
The case first came to trial in Kenai Superior Court in September 2002 but ended in a mistrial when Brown 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 Herz argued that when the witness said he agreed to taking the test and was later given a deal, he led jurors to believe what he said. The jurors would believe the witness to be a truthful person, Herz said.
The planned defense had been to discredit that witness and other state witnesses.
To find a pool of potential jurors who had not read or heard about the case, Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link then moved the case to Anchorage where a second trial began Oct. 7.
The jury found Smith guilty of three counts of tampering with physical evidence but could not agree on a verdict on the two murder charges and another mistrial was declared Oct. 31.
The third trial began Jan. 16, with the jury reaching its verdict Tuesday.
Sentencing has tentatively been set for April 14 in Kenai.
Wolfe said he would meet with Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell to decide on the state's sentencing recommendation.
"He can get up to 99 years on each count," Wolfe said.
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