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Former Raiders payer pleads not guilty in four slayings

City News Service | 10/29/2012, 1:26 p.m.

LANCASTER, Calif. -- Former Raiders defensive end Anthony Wayne Smith pleaded not guilty today to murder charges stemming from four killings nearly a decade apart.

On Oct. 12, Lancaster Superior Court Judge Lisa Chung found sufficient evidence to require the 45-year-old ex-pro football player to proceed to trial in connection with the Nov. 10, 1999, slayings of Kevin and Ricky Nettles, the June 25, 2001, killing of Dennis Henderson and the Oct. 7, 2008, death of Maurilio Ponce.

The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, torture and kidnapping involving the Nettles brothers and Henderson and the robbery of Ponce, according to Deputy District Attorney Taly Peretz.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Smith, who is being held without bail.

A Lancaster Superior Court jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of finding him guilty April 18 of Ponce's murder.

Smith had been awaiting retrial in connection with Ponce's killing when the three new murder charges were filed against him July 2.

The Nettles brothers were each shot, while Henderson was beaten and stabbed to death.

Smith, the Raiders' top pick in 1990 out of the University of Arizona, played professional football with the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders between 1991 and 1997.

He was charged in February 2011 along with two other men in connection with Ponce's killing. Charles Eric Honest was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced in July to 35 years to life in prison, while co-defendant Dewann Wesley White was convicted of first-degree murder and is still awaiting sentencing.

Smith was charged with arson in the February 2003 firebombing of a Santa Monica furniture store in connection with an alleged dispute over a few hundred dollars and a statue left at the store on consignment. But a judge dismissed the case against him in December 2004 after two juries deadlocked--the second 11-1 in favor of acquittal.

Smith subsequently sued a Santa Monica police sergeant, contending that he was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted. A panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Smith's claim in a 2-1 ruling in October 2010.

A pretrial hearing on the murder charges is scheduled for Nov. 20.