Stolen Memory Card Helps Convict Vicious Murderer

Indigenous women from Native American and Alaska Native communities have faced significant challenges due to elevated levels of violence. Data indicates that close to 40% have disclosed encountering violence during their lives. Recently, a man was found guilty of murdering two Alaska Native women, with crucial evidence from a recovered memory card aiding in his conviction.

On February 22, a jury in Anchorage rendered a verdict of guilty against 52-year-old Brian Steven Smith on two charges of first-degree murder concerning the deaths of Kathleen Henry and Veronica Abouchuk. Additionally, Smith was convicted on 12 other charges linked to the women’s fatalities, which encompassed various counts of sexual assault.

Both victims hailed from remote villages in western Alaska. Smith lodged at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Anchorage between September 2 and September 4, 2019. During this period, Henry visited his room, where Smith subjected her to torture before ultimately taking her life.

Smith filmed Henry while he viciously assaulted and choked her multiple times. The jury viewed these recordings, hearing Henry struggle for air before succumbing to her injuries. Throughout the ordeal, Smith provided a narrative of the events unfolding, even forewarning Henry of her impending demise by stating, “In my movies, everybody always dies.”

Although Smith’s face was obscured in the videos, the jury identified him by his distinct South African accent. These recordings were discovered on an SD card, which also contained images depicting Henry’s body placed in the bed of a pickup truck.

Valerie Casler handed over the SD card to law enforcement, although her explanation of how she obtained it changed over time. Eventually, she confessed to taking Smith’s phone from his car and then moving the videos and images onto the SD card before giving it to the authorities. Officials verified that the card contained 12 videos and 39 images.

Smith admitted to the murder of Abouchuk in either 2018 or 2019. He recounted picking her up in Anchorage and commenting on her odor. Allegedly, when the victim declined to shower, Smith claimed to have fatally shot her in the head.

The accused is confronting a compulsory 99-year term for the killing of Henry and a potential sentence ranging from 30 to 99 years for the murder of Abouchuk. Smith was married during both incidents, and his wife, Stephanie Bissland, stated that she has no intentions of divorcing him.




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