- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska announced Wednesday that it will seek the death penalty against an Alaskan man accused of murdering two people in 2016.

John Pearl Smith II could be put to death if he’s convicted of murdering Crystal Denardi and Ben Gross. He also faces drug trafficking and firearms charges.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had directed the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska to pursue the death penalty, according to a Justice Department announcement.


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The indictment alleges Mr. Smith tried to rob people he believed were trafficking drugs. On each occasion, he brandished firearms during the robberies, prosecutors said.

Mr. Smith is alleged to have killed Denardi and Gross and shot a third individual identified in the indictment as “R.B.”



The incident occurred on June 5, 2016. Alaska State Troopers arrived at a home in Palmer, Alaska, after receiving a 911 call about a possible shooting, according to court documents. When police arrived, they found the garage on fire and Denardi and Gross inside. Prosecutors said the victims died from gunshot wounds, not from the fire.

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