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Ex-Los Angeles Raider Anthony Smith faces murder charges

Anthony Wayne Smith
Two different portraits of Anthony Wayne Smith arise as he faces arraignment in the slayings of four men--a loving family man who was a successful top draft pick of the Los Angeles Raiders and a brutal killer.

"We knew him as someone who couldn't physically hurt someone outside the football field," said Sebrenna Graves, a longtime friend.

But only months after his football career ended, prosecutors allege, Smith killed two men—and two more in the years that followed. A jury deadlocked on one murder charge against the North Carolina native in April; charges against him in three other cold-case murders were filed as he awaited retrial. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Smith is expected Wednesday to appear in court for arraignment. His attorney denies that Smith was involved in any of the crimes.

The path that led Smith from a pro football career to a criminal courtroom in Lancaster is studded with contradictions. Friends and family describe him as a loving and generous father of three, happily married for 14 years to a San Bernardino County prosecutor.

But there are also jarring notes in his past — suggestions of personal inconsistencies and struggles with fame. And apart from the murder charges, he has had other legal troubles. In the years since his last season on the football field in 1997, Smith faced charges of arson — later dismissed — and prosecutors suggested he was involved in a bank-wire scam, though no charges were filed.

Then, last year, Smith's name was in the news again: Los Angeles County prosecutors announced they had filed murder charges against him in the death of Lancaster mechanic Maurilio Ponce on Oct. 7, 2008.

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-- Ann M. Simmons and Sam Farmer

Photo: Anthony Wayne Smith, a former Raiders defensive end, appears in a Lancaster court in July. He will be arraigned Wednesday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.

 
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