Facebook reunion ends with murder, crab feed

BALTIMORE — 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.

More in Local News

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Paine Field fire chief will be allowed to retire

In his letter, the airport director noted Jeff Bohnet was leaving while under investigation.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on US 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Most Read