Opening Statements Set For Today In Trial of Exterminator Charged With Killing Doctor in Her Center City Home

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia jury will hear opening statements today in the 2013 murder of a doctor in her Center City home – allegedly at the hands of a Levittown exterminator – whom she hired to rid her home of rodents.

Yesterday, daylong pretrial motions took place at the Criminal Justice Center.

The defense is attempting to suppress statements that 36-year old Jason Smith gave to police after Dr. Melissa Ketunuti was strangled, and her body set on fire.

Defense lawyer Michael Farrell claims there was insufficient probable cause to arrest Smith at the time, and his subsequent ‘blurt out’ statement that ‘she was alive when I left the house,’ and confession to detectives in the homicide unit should not be presented to jurors.

Assistant D-A Jennifer Selber, chief of the homicide unit, says ‘brilliant’ detective work links Smith to the crime scene, after police gathered surveillance video in the Graduate Hospital area, and data from the phones of the victim and the defendant, when she made the appointment.

Before the jury is seated, Judge Sandy Byrd will rule on those pre-trial motion issues, and decide which grisly crime scene photos the jury will view.

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