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Suspect In Death Of Center City Doctor Held For Trial

Hanson_Tony--NEW Tony Hanson
Tony Hanson has spent his entire illustrious career at KYW Newsradio,...
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By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — According to a statement read in court, the alleged killer of a Children’s Hospital pediatrician says she pleaded for her life as he strangled her inside her Center City home in January.

The 37-year-old defendant, an exterminator at the victim’s home on a service call, has been ordered held for trial. (See Related Story)

Homicide detective Edward Tolliver has testified Jason Smith admitted choking Melissa Ketunuti, a Children’s Hospital pediatrian, and she was begging for her life.

The statement said that Ketunuti said “Please stop, please stop, I’m sorry. I’ll do whatever you want.”

“He indicated he had an argument with her about how the exterminating was being done, and he strangled her to death and then tied her up and lit her on fire to destroy the evidence,” Prosecutor Jennifer Selber said.

Ketunuti’s dog walker discovered the victim, still on fire. Selber says the evidence shows she was dead before set on fire.

The defense declined comment on the details of the case after the hearing.

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