Man who killed reporter could be sentenced to 99 years no parole

Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man who killed an Eagle River reporter in 1998 is scheduled to become the first Alaskan sentenced under a law that requires 99 years in prison with no parole for people convicted of a second murder.

An Anchorage jury in March found Randall Smith guilty of shooting Alaska Star columnist Bill Hall eight times in the head. Since he apparently didn't know Hall, investigators believe Smith was a hired gun, or killed Hall as a favor for someone else.

Smith, 38, spent nearly 15 years in prison in Washington state for beating a man to death there in 1985. He had been free less than a year when he killed Hall, said Assistant District Attorney Jay Fayette.

Smith did not testify at his trial. He did not respond to a request for an interview in jail, and his attorney, Sydney Billingslea, said she would not discuss her client before the sentencing hearing.

Smith has a lengthy criminal history. He was still a teen-ager in 1982 when an attempted burglary became his third felony conviction, earning him a five-year sentence. He also has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Three weeks after making parole in late 1984, Smith walked away from his drug-treatment program. In late May or early June, he killed a man he had been sharing an abandoned house with in south Seattle. The body wasn't found for several months.

This time he spent nearly 15 years in prison. He was released in March 1998.

Part of the 1992 law requiring a sentence of 99 years without parole has run into constitutional problems. Fayette is hoping to convince the judge that he would have sent Smith away for life even if the law did not require him to do so.

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