The Latest: South African pleads not guilty in Alaska death

The Latest on arraignment for a man accused of killing two Alaska Native women (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A man has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges stemming from the death of a second homeless Alaska Native woman.

Brian Steven Smith entered his pleas through a public defender Monday in the death of Veronica Abouchuk. Police say he confessed to shooting a woman in 2017 or 2018, provided them the location where he said he left the body, and confirmed Abouchuk was that woman when shown her picture.

Smith earlier pleaded not guilty to similar charges in the death of Kathleen Henry. Authorities allege Smith photographed and videotaped the brutal death and kept the imagery on a memory card he lost.

The person who found it turned it over to police. Detectives recognized the man’s accent on the tape, which led them to arrest Smith, who is originally from South Africa.


5:30 a.m.

The suspect in a brutal torture killing in Alaska’s biggest city ended up leading police right to him, first by losing a digital memory card labeled “Homicide at midtown Marriott” that contained video of the dying woman.

Then came an even more innocuous blunder: He spoke on the tape in his distinctive, very un-Alaska accent.

Amid the footage, a clue: The killer spoke in an “English sounding accent.” Detectives recalled Brian Steven Smith, from another investigation, the details of which are undisclosed.

Smith moved from South Africa five years ago and became a naturalized U.S. citizen last month.

He’s pleaded not guilty to the first murder charge.

But police say he’s confessed to killing a second homeless Alaska Native woman. He’s set to be arraigned on those charges Monday.

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