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

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Jim Mathis, the Vietnam veteran whose Marysville garden was recently featured in The Herald, died Wednesday. Mathis, who suffered from PTSD and cancer, found solace in his beautiful garden. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Vietnam veteran Jim Mathis found peace in his garden

The Marysville man who served two tours died Wednesday after suffering from cancer and PTSD.

Smith Island habitat restoration cost to rise $1.2 million

The project is intended to increase survival rates for juvenile chinook salmon.

Add deputies and bump taxes a bit, executive proposes

Dave Somers’ Snohomish County budget proposal also would address traffic problems in neighborhoods.

County councilman proposes banning safe injection sites

Nate Nehring says county officials also should find “credible, long-term solutions to addiction.”

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

They chose the longshot candidate to fill a vacant seat

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick will serve as representative for the 39th legislative district.

How Carleton Farms prepares for Halloween — in the summer

The Lake Stevens farm opens Sept. 30 for your pumpkin pickin’, scare lovin’, zombie-fightin’ pleasure

Expanded Community Transit service set to start

CT is adding a total of 68 new bus trips in an expansion of service approved by district directors.

Most Read