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Ex-Oakland Raider could face death penalty in murder cases

July 5, 2012 |  9:05 am

Anthony Wayne Smith, shown here during a 1994 Raiders game.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty for three murders it says are now allegedly linked to Anthony Wayne Smith, a former Oakland Raiders defensive end already awaiting retrial in a 2008 Lancaster murder.

A criminal complaint, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, includes the original murder charge involving the 2008 slaying of Maurilo Ponce but also accuses Smith of the 1999 killings of brothers Kevin and Ricky Nettles and the murder of Dennis Henderson in 2001.

Smith, 45, also faces special circumstance allegations of torture and multiple murders, along with several counts of kidnapping and robbery, according to the criminal complaint.

The murders of Henderson and the Nettles brothers were investigated by Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives and filed as a capital case, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

But prosecutors will not make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty until "closer to the trial," she said and only after the defendant's preliminary hearing.

Gibbons said Wednesday that in November 1999, the Nettles brothers were kidnapped from a carwash business in Los Angeles. Two people posing as police officers handcuffed the men with zip ties, Gibbons said.

The next day, the brothers were found dead, apparently tortured and shot with a 9-millimeter handgun, she said.

In June 2001, Dennis Henderson and Terry Ware were kidnapped in Los Angeles by several armed suspects, Gibbons said.

They were placed in separate cars and driven away. Ware was released, but the following day, authorities found Henderson's body in the back of a rental car. He had been beaten, stabbed and allegedly tortured and robbed, Gibbons said.

Smith allegedly knew Henderson's brother and lived next door to him in Marina del Rey, according to prosecutors. Gibbons said she did not know the motive for the killings.

Smith is awaiting retrial for his alleged role in the slaying of 31-year-old Ponce, whose body was found on Oct. 7, 2008, with six gunshot wounds, including two to the head.

Smith's first trial for Ponce's murder ended in a hung jury in April when the panel failed to reach agreement on a verdict, splitting 8 to 4 for a guilty judgment.

Also charged in connection with Ponce's death and awaiting trial is 33-year-old Dewan Wesley White of Bloomington. A third defendant, Eric Honest, 42, of Los Angeles, was found guilty in April of second-degree murder. He is awaiting sentencing, defense attorneys said.

Michael S. Evans, who represented Smith in his first trial, could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the new murder charges against his client.

Smith, who played professional football with the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders in the 1990s, is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned July 17 on the new charges, Gibbons said.


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Photo: Anthony Wayne Smith, shown here during a 1994 Raiders game, faces three more murder charges. The former defensive end is already awaiting retrial for his alleged role in the 2008 slaying of Maurilo Ponce. Credit: Al Bello / Allsport