Jury Deliberations To Begin In Trial Of Man Accused Of Killing Center City Pediatrician

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jury deliberations are expected to begin later this morning in the trial of a Levittown, Bucks County man charged with murdering a doctor in her Center City home. That, after day-long closing arguments and cross-examination of the defendant.

Defense lawyer Michael Farrell began Tuesday with a quote that he put up on a screen that read: “Innocent people sometimes confess to crimes they did not commit.”

He told jurors there’s no physical or scientific evidence that links his client, 37-year old Jason Smith, to the murder of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti. Indeed, he says DNA data excludes him.

Farrell suggests that video surveillance showed him on a legitimate exterminating house call, but homicide detectives jumped on him and during intense interrogation, they extracted an “involuntary confession.”

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Selber told jurors Smith “squeezed the life out of Melissa,” and that the circumstantial evidence against him are facts that “don’t lie, forget, or change…they just are.”

Selber, chief of the DA’s homicide unit, says brilliant detective work put Smith at the crime scene on Naudain Street. During cross-examination, she asked him how he knew the ‘order of the gruesome events, that the victim was strangled, then tied, then burned’ – before the medical examiner’s report came out.

She told jurors that prosecutors were seeking a 1st degree murder conviction.

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