Advertisement

Brian Steven Smith found guilty on all counts for the murder of 2 Native Alaska women

A jury found Brian Steven Smith guilty of the murders of 30-year-old Kathleen Jo Henry and 52-year-old Veronica Abouchuk, two Native Alaska women who died on Sep. 4, 2019, and August 2018, respectively.

Smith was found guilty of all 14 criminal counts, including first- and second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and sexual assault in the deaths of both women.

The jury also found that an aggravated factor of substantial physical torture applies to Smith's count of first-degree murder in the murder of Kathleen Jo Henry.

Smith, who is from South Africa, previously admitted to committing both murders in an interrogation on Oct. 8, 2019, which was played for the jury during the trial. Still, Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges.

MORE: How a stolen phone led to a murder trial for deaths of 2 Alaska Native women

Timothy Ayer, Smith's defense attorney, said during closing arguments on Thursday that the October interrogation was "concocted" to trick Smith into confessing. Ayer called the interrogation "eight hours of pre-planned psychological warfare."

PHOTO: Brian Steven Smith sits in a courtroom while waiting for his arraignment to start in Anchorage, Alaska, Oct. 16, 2019. (Mark Thiessen/AP)
PHOTO: Brian Steven Smith sits in a courtroom while waiting for his arraignment to start in Anchorage, Alaska, Oct. 16, 2019. (Mark Thiessen/AP)

ABC News reached out to Ayer for further comment but requests were not immediately returned.

During the trial -- which began on Feb. 6 -- prosecutors for the State of Alaska presented graphic video and photo evidence of Smith narrating his actions during Henry's murder.

Police were led to Smith when a woman claimed to have found an SD card labeled "Homicide at midtown Marriott" lying on the ground on Sept. 30, 2019, according to court documents.

The woman -- Valerie Casler -- later admitted to stealing the phone from Smith's truck and transferring the contents to an SD card that she then turned over to police, she testified on the stand. She said she lost the original phone.

Ayer argued that Casler is an unreliable source.

Prosecutors Brittany Dunlop and Heather Nobrega alleged that Smith killed Henry in a Marriott hotel room, as shown in the cellphone videos, in Midtown Anchorage, Alaska. The prosecution also argued that Smith killed Abouchuk in his living room with a green gun, which Smith confessed to in the October 2019 interrogation.

MORE: Memory card found on the street labeled 'Homicide' leads to arrest of alleged killer

"You will all carry the burden of knowledge," Dunlop said at the beginning of the trial. "I'm sorry that you will carry the burden of this heavy, heavy knowledge. But I'm going to ask you to convict the defendant of everything he's charged with."

The prosecutors alleged that Smith preyed on vulnerable women. Both victims Henry and Abouchuk were of Native Alaskan descent. Both women, along with Casler, the woman who turned in the SD card, also experienced homelessness. Smith had picked up Casler from her temporary housing when she stole his phone.

In an emotional testimony, Abouchuk's daughter, Kristy Grimaldi, shared that her mother also experienced an alcohol addiction.

"As a kid, I really didn't understand why or how my mother was but as an adult, I just really felt for her," Grimaldi said. "She would even speak about, you know, going to treatment and it not being a good experience for her."

Investigators found additional devices in Smith's home containing deleted images and videos of Abouchuk's alleged murder.

Smith is facing a life sentence.

Brian Steven Smith found guilty on all counts for the murder of 2 Native Alaska women originally appeared on abcnews.go.com