ANCHORAGE -- The defense's case in the trial of accused murderer Billy D. Smith is a mirage made out of thin air, assistant district attorney John Wolfe told jurors in Anchorage as he presented the prosecution's closing argument Monday.
He likened the case of the prosecution, on the other hand, to a "puzzle with pieces that fit together."
Defense attorney Robert Herz said the evidence in the case did not point conclusively to his client beyond a reasonable doubt.
Wolfe and Herz gave their final arguments to the jury of seven women and six men ending the three-week trial. Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. today. One juror is serving as an alternate.
Smith is on trial for the March 27, 1994, murders of Harold Enzler, 39, of Nikiski, and Nancy Bellamy, 42, of Homer. He also is charged with three counts of tampering with physical evidence, namely the bodies of the victims and Enzler's truck in which the couple was shot to death. The bodies were never found.
An earlier trial, which began in Kenai Sept. 19, ended in a mistrial being declared by Judge Jonathan Link Sept. 27, 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 was later given a deal, he led jurors to believe what he said. Herz said the jurors would believe the witness was a truthful person.
His planned defense, he said, had been to undermine the reliability of the witness' testimony as well as the testimony of other state witnesses.
A new trial began in Anchorage with jury selection Oct. 1.
"Mr. Herz is pouring out as much smoke in this case in hopes you get lost in it," Wolfe told the jury.
Wolfe described Smith as being "sharp."
"He got away with his dope dealings for years without getting caught," said Wolfe.
"The defendant is a very cunning killer," he said.
Wolfe listed the evidence the jury had heard and seen during the course of the trial recalling the testimony of witnesses, photos of parts of the Enzler truck, which had been dismantled and dumped in various locations around the Kenai Peninsula, and writings of Smith to his girlfriend Michelle "Mimi" Enzler, the estranged wife of victim Harold Enzler.
Wolfe also told jurors they could again listen to a tape of Smith's confession, which had been played in court earlier in the trial.
Smith confessed to the murders three years later after he was arrested in Anchorage on unrelated charges.
The defense argued that the confession was false.
"If you don't recall how the tape of the confession affected you, I urge you to listen to it again," said Wolfe.
Pointing to Smith, Wolfe said, "I am confident you will come back in here and hold that man accountable."
Regarding the assertion that Smith's confession was false, Wolfe told the jurors that it was "ridiculous" for Smith to think he would be released from the Anchorage jail if he confessed to the crimes.
Defense attorney Herz had told jurors that police investigators tricked Smith into confessing because Smith was going through withdrawal from a heroin addiction. Smith was told he could get out of jail to get a heroin fix if he became a police informant in the murder case, according to Herz.
"Interrogation techniques have become very sophisticated," Herz said.
"We don't use rubber hoses anymore, but Chuck Kopp kept coming at him, coming at him," said Herz. Kopp -- now Kenai police chief -- was one of the investigating officers at the time of Smith's confession.
Herz said Smith was into his third or fourth day of withdrawing from heroin, a period when "the worst happens."
"That's when he's being interrogated. Bill was going through hell and then some," said Herz, explaining why police obtained a false confession.
Herz also suggested to jurors that others, including Mimi Enzler, Bruce Brown and Dennis "Ray J" Johnson had motives for committing the murders.
Brown and Johnson have both served jail time for their involvement in the crimes. Brown, who reportedly drove Enzler and Bellamy to the site of the murders in Nikiski, and Johnson, who accompanied Smith to the site, were convicted of helping dispose of the truck.
Herz conceded that the state had corroborating evidence regarding the charges of tampering with physical evidence, but told the jury "there is huge reasonable doubt as to who shot the victims."
"For that reason, you must acquit Bill Smith," said Herz.
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