Ex-Raider to stand trial on 4 murders

A Los Angeles County judge on Friday ordered that Anthony Wayne

Smith, a defensive lineman who played for eight years in the 1990s

for the NFL’s Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, must stand trial for

four murders.

Judge Lisa Chung ruled after a four-day preliminary hearing in a

court in Lancaster north of Los Angeles that there was sufficient

evidence for Smith, 45, to stand trial for the killings that came

in a nine-year span beginning the year after Smith’s NFL career

ended, when prosecutors say he quickly went from terrorizing

quarterbacks to a life of very real violence.

Smith had already been tried for one of the killings: the 2008

death of Maurilio Ponce, a mechanic found stomped, beaten and shot

along a Southern California desert highway in what prosecutors

called a business deal gone wrong.

A jury deadlocked 8-4 in April in favor of guilt, and in July

while awaiting retrial, Smith was charged with the other

murders.

They include the 1999 killing of Kevin and Ricky Nettles,

brothers found shot to death, their bodies dumped about eight miles

apart, after they were kidnapped from a Los Angeles car wash.

He’s also charged in the June 2001 killing of Dennis Henderson,

who, along with another man, was kidnapped in Los Angeles by

several gunmen. The other man was let go, but Henderson was found

stabbed to death in a rental car.

Defense attorney Daniel Evans said prosecutors have cited no

credible motive in any of the cases, and said they all lack

physical evidence.

”There’s no DNA evidence, there’s no fingerprints evidence,

there’s no ballistics evidence that tie him to any of these

cases,” Evans told The Associated Press in a phone interview

Friday night.

The cases will be combined into a single trial. They include

special circumstances allegations that make Smith eligible for the

death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet decided whether they

will seek it, district attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons

said.

The case returns to court for a hearing Oct. 29.

Smith, drafted as a pass rusher 11th overall by the Los Angeles

Raiders in 1990, amassed 57 1/2 sacks and 190 tackles before

retiring in 1998, after the team had returned to Oakland.