Brian Smith Murders 2 In Alaska

Brian Smith is a killer from Alaska who was convicted of the murders of two women

According to court documents Brian Smith would murder Kathleen Henry and he would tape himself torturing the woman on a cell phone. The cell phone would later be stolen from his truck and when the thief realized what was on it would turn it over to the police. Smith would also admit to murdering Veronica Abouchuk earlier

Brian Smith would also be charged with a series of sexual assaults

Brian Smith would be convicted of the two murders plus the sexual assaults. His sentencing is scheduled for this summer

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Brian Smith Case

A South African man who tortured an Alaska Native woman and narrated as he recorded a video of her dying was found guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday for killing her and another Native woman.

The Anchorage jury returned a unanimous verdict against Brian Steven Smith after deliberating for less than two hours.

Smith, a 52-year-old from South Africa, showed no reaction in court and stared ahead as the judge read the jury’s verdict. He was arrested after a woman stole his cellphone from his truck and discovered the gruesome footage from 2019. The woman, a sex worker who became a key witness during the trial in Anchorage, then copied the footage to a memory card and ultimately turned it over to police, prosecutors said.

Smith later confessed to killing another Alaska Native woman whose body had been found earlier but had been misidentified.

Smith was found guilty of all 14 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kathleen Henry in 2019 and Veronica Abouchuk, either in 2018 or 2019. He was also convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault.

Sentencing was set for July 12 and July 19. Alaska does not have the death penalty.

Freda Dan, who is part of the Abouchuk family by marriage, sat through the trial nearly every day and gave high marks to law enforcement and the judicial system for their thorough work.

“We weren’t invisible, and we are people,” said Dan, who is from the village of Stebbing, adding they were treated with respect. Other family members declined to comment.

Also attending the trial was Smith’s wife, Stephanie Bissland of Anchorage.

“He was very good for me, but he had another life, I guess,” she said, adding his problems were likely exacerbated by heavy drinking.

Bissland said when he was first jailed, he was in a very dark place. “He got better,” she said.

She plans to write him and visit him when he is transferred to a prison. Divorce is not in the cards. “I said my vows,” she said.

Jurors stayed in the courtroom Thursday after delivering the verdict to hear more evidence about whether the first-degree murder conviction involved aggravating factors. They later found the murder involved “substantial physical torture” after hearing additional arguments from attorneys. That will subject Smith to a mandatory 99-year sentence.

For Abouchuk’s murder, he faces 30 to 99 years.

The graphic videos were only shown to the jury during the three-week trial, but audio could be heard in the gallery, where some heard Henry gasping for breath before dying. Prosecutors said he drove around with Henry’s body in the back of his pickup for two days before dumping her corpse on a rural road south of Anchorage.

The video never shows the man’s face but his distinctive accent is heard on the tape. He narrates as if to an audience and urges Henry to die as she’s repeatedly beaten and strangled in an Anchorage hotel room.

“In my movies, everybody always dies,” the voice says on one video. “What are my followers going to think of me? People need to know when they are being serial-killed.”

Henry and Abouchuk were from small villages in western Alaska, Henry from Eek and Abouchuk from Stebbins. Both women had experienced homelessness.

Authorities say Henry was the victim whose death was recorded at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott, a hotel in midtown Anchorage. Smith was registered to stay from Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, 2019; the first images showing her body were time-stamped at about 1 a.m. on Sept. 4, police said.

The last images on the card were taken early on Sept. 6 and showed Henry’s body in the back of a black pickup, according to charging documents. Location data showed that at the time the photo was taken, Smith’s phone was near Rainbow Valley Road, along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage, the same area where Henry’s body was found several weeks later, police said.

Valerie Casler, the woman who provided the images to police, has changed her story over the years about how she came into possession of the SD memory card.

She first claimed she found the card, labeled “Murder at the Midtown Marriott” on the ground.

Later, she claimed she stole the card from the center console of Smith’s pickup when they were on what she described as a “date,” but then changed it to say she stole Smith’s phone from the truck.

When she charged the phone, she said she found 46 images and one video on it, and later transferred those to an SD card she stole from a department store. She then labeled the card. Authorities later said the SD card contained 39 images and 12 videos.

During an eight-hour police interrogation at the Anchorage airport, Smith confessed to police that he also killed Abouchuk. Smith had picked her up in Anchorage while his wife was out of town. He said she smelled, but Abouchuk refused to take a shower when he asked.

He became upset, retrieved a pistol from the garage and shot her in the head before dumping her body north of Anchorage. He told police where the body was left, and authorities later found a skull with a bullet wound there

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