Feds seek death penalty against Alaska man in 2016 Wasilla double homicide

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Anchorage, Alaska (AP) — U.S. prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a 32-year-old Alaska man charged with crimes that resulted in the deaths of two people.

Prosecutors filed a notice Tuesday to seek the death penalty against John Pearl Smith II if he's convicted of federal drug trafficking and firearms crimes that resulted in murder. Wasilla residents Ben Gross and Crystal Denardi were killed in June 2016.

Smith has pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Steven Wells says he's "quite saddened" that prosecutors are seeking that route.

Alaska doesn't have the death penalty but U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions approved seeking the punishment.

Prosecutors say Smith shot and killed Gross and Denardi in a robbery attempt. Their bodies were found in a burned home.

Autopsy results showed they had been shot before the fire started.



 
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