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TMCNet:  Man convicted of murdering old friend he found on Facebook

[January 04, 2013]

Man convicted of murdering old friend he found on Facebook

BALTIMORE, Jan 04, 2013 (The Baltimore Sun - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- Kenneth Todd Brunetti and Lois Jean Vance Smyth rekindled a high school friendship after finding each other on Facebook two years ago. Just a few months later, Brunetti shot Smyth in the head and left her for dead in Leakin Park.


After the killing, Brunetti stole Smyth's car and bank card, withdrew $700 at an ATM and enjoyed a crab feast with friends, according to filings in the criminal case. A Baltimore jury convicted him of Smyth's murder, gun offenses and theft charges in December.

Brunetti, 41, could receive life in prison at a sentencing scheduled for next month.

Margaret Mead, Brunetti's attorney, contends that the conviction was based on shaky evidence. She plans to file an appeal.

"We're extremely disappointed in the jury verdict," she said. "He had nothing to do with her death and cared for her." Brunetti had his first tangle with the law at age 17, court records show, facing armed-robbery charges that were ultimately handled in juvenile court. He had been in trouble again in recent years, including a 2004 conviction for armed carjacking.

He was on probation at the time he reconnected with Smyth, but Mead said he had not been in any further trouble and was working in a barbershop. Brunetti and Smyth had reconnected to plan a high school reunion, Mead added.

Records in the case indicate that Brunetti and Smyth talked on the phone for about 10 minutes shortly after 2 a.m. on May 29, 2011, the day she was killed. That afternoon, Smyth, 40, left her Linthicum home to meet Brunetti, supposedly to go to a cookout.

But Brunetti instead lured Smyth to a wooded area on the Gwynns Falls Trail and shot her once in the head before fleeing the scene in her 2005 Chrysler Sebring and taking her phone and bank card, according to court filings.

Brunetti was captured on video at 4:47 p.m. withdrawing $700 from a nearby Wachovia ATM. He headed to the Corinthian Lounge in Windsor Mill _ just a few miles from the murder scene _ to eat crabs with friends, according to the court filings.

Meanwhile, a woman jogging on the trail found Smyth's body at 6:19 p.m. and called police. Her body had rolled down a hill toward a stream, officers wrote in a statement of charges for Brunetti.

Brunetti was arrested just a few days after the killing. He had been sitting in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn on Reisterstown Road in Smyth's car, still carrying her bank card. The Baltimore Sun reported at the time that he was picked up on a probation violation charge connected to the 2004 carjacking.

A murder warrant in connection with Smyth's killing was served June 16, 2011, according to online records.

Mead said that the medical examiner's report suggests that Smyth was killed much later than the prosecution alleged, and that Brunetti was not at the scene.

Smyth's family declined to comment on the case until after Brunetti is sentenced.

___ (c)2013 The Baltimore Sun Visit The Baltimore Sun at www.baltimoresun.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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