Jason Smith, 39, allegedly confessed to the crime after a five-hour interrogration

By Tara Fowler
May 15, 2015 10:45 AM
Philadelphia Police Department

A Pennsylvania exterminator has been convicted of the murder of a pediatrician who criticized his work.

Jason Smith, 39, couldn’t hold back his emotion when a jury found him guilty of murder, arson, risking a catastrophe, abuse of corpse, and a weapons charge on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Smith was accused of strangling 35-year-old Dr. Melissa Ketunuti in her home in January 2013. He then allegedly tied up her body and set it on fire, according to the Associated Press.

The two had reportedly argued after Ketunuti told him she was dissatisfied with his work. Smith had been called to her house to help get rid of a mice problem. Prosecutors said that Smith became angry when Ketunuti criticized his work and killed her, then burned the body to cover up evidence of the crime.

Smith was arrested in connection with her death just two days after she was discovered. He allegedly confessed to the crime after five hours of interrogation.

But the exterminator insisted he was coerced into a false confession – a claim that was undercut by phone calls between Smith and his girlfriend, in which they joked about how hard it would be to convince a jury that he was mentally impaired enough to falsely confess.

“This was indeed a senseless killing,” Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd told the court, “and from what I heard during the course of this trial, the world has lost someone who had much to give.”

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