Stolen Memory Card Helps Convict Vicious Murderer

( – Native American and Alaska Native women have struggled with high rates of violence. Statistics have shown that nearly 40% have reported experiencing violence in their lifetimes. A man was recently convicted of killing two Alaska Native women, and a stolen memory card helped convict him.

On February 22, an Anchorage jury found 52-year-old Brian Steven Smith guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Kathleen Henry and Veronica Abouchuk. He was also found guilty of 12 other counts related to the women’s deaths, including multiple counts of sexual assault.

According to The Associated Press, both of the victims were from small villages in western Alaska. Smith stayed at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Anchorage from September 2 to September 4, 2019. At some point, Henry went to his room. While she was there, Smith tortured her and killed her.

Smith took videos of Henry as he repeatedly beat and strangled her. The jury watched the videos and heard Henry gasping for breath before dying. While Smith was killing her, he narrated what was happening. At one point, he told Henry she was going to die, saying, “In my movies, everybody always dies.”

Smith’s face was not visible in the videos, but the jury heard his voice with his distinctive South African accent. The videos were found on an SD card, along with photos of Henry’s body in the back of a pickup truck.

Valerie Casler gave law enforcement the SD card, but how exactly she came into possession of it changed multiple times over the years. Ultimately, she said she stole Smith’s phone from his truck and transferred the videos/images to an SD card that she gave to police. Law enforcement said there were 12 videos and 39 images on the card.

Smith confessed to killing Abouchuk in 2018 or 2019. He said he picked her up in Anchorage and told her she smelled. The victim allegedly refused to shower, so Smith said he shot her in the head.

The defendant is facing a mandatory 99-year sentence for Henry’s murder and 30 to 99 years for Abouchek. Smith was married at the time of both murders, and his wife, Stephanie Bissland, said she has no plans to divorce him.

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