What did Brian Steven Smith do? South African man found guilty of killing 2 Alaska native women

Brian Steven Smith has been found guilty of killing two indigenous women, (Image via Freepik)
Brian Steven Smith has been found guilty of killing two indigenous women (Image via Freepik)

A 52-year-old man from South Africa, identified as Brian Steven Smith, has been found guilty of murdering two women back in 2018 and 2019. The conviction took place on Thursday, February 22, after an Anchorage jury found him guilty of the murders of the two Alaska native women.

Trigger warning: The article contains references to sexual abuse and violence. Readers' discretion is advised.

One victim, 52-year-old Veronica Abouchuk, was killed in 2018, while the other victim, 30-year-old Kathleen Jo Henry, was murdered in September 2019. Smith was also accused of videotaping one of the two murders. Despite initially admitting to the killings during interrogation, Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges filed against him during the trial.

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South African man Brian Steven Smith convicted of killing two native women in Alaska

Brian Steven Smith has been found guilty by a jury in connection to two murders that took place in 2018 and 2019. The verdict came swiftly, with the jury deliberating for less than two hours before reaching a unanimous decision, as reported by Anchorage Daily News. The entire trial highlighted all the gruesome and violent crimes committed against the two Alaska Native women.

Prosecutor Heather Nobrega revealed that Brian admitted to killing the women and dumping their naked bodies. He reportedly bragged about his actions as well. He also sent a photo of sexually abusing Veronica's body to a girlfriend. Nobrega additionally said,

"It is difficult to explain the callousness and the brutality the defendant has perpetrated on these women."

ABC News reported that he has been found guilty of 14 criminal counts, including first- and second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and sexual assault. In the trial that began on February 6, prosecutors presented visual evidence where Brian Steven Smith is seen narrating the heinous murder of Kathleen Jo Henry. During the closing statement, Nobrega said,

"You saw the defendant repeatedly strangle Kathleen Henry. You saw him step on her throat; you saw him step on her stomach. You see him fondle her and pinch her breasts. You see him poke her in the eye several times."

Families of victims and Smith's wife present for verdict

During the hearing, several family members and friends were in attendance. According to Anchorage Daily News, Veronica's sister, Rena Sapp, said,

"My sister Veronica and Kathleen — it’s their day today."

In an interrogation dated October 8, 2019, Smith reportedly admitted to the murders, providing gruesome details. However, his defense attorney, Timothy Ayer, claimed that the interrogation procedure was "concocted" and that authorities just wanted to get a confession out of his client. Ayer deemed the interrogation "eight hours of pre-planned psychological warfare."

Ayer additionally said,

"If there’s any part of this case that makes you think, maybe not, that’s reasonable doubt."

Anchorage Daily News reported that the abundance of evidence against Brian Steven Smith led many to question why the case proceeded to trial instead of a plea deal. His first sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 12, 2024.

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