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Melissa Ketunuti Murder: Philadelphia pediatrician pleaded for her life as exterminator working in her home killed her, police say

Undated photo of Melissa Ketunuti Blogspot

Melissa Ketunuti, a Philadelphia pediatrician, was strangled to death and set on fire Jan. 21, 2013.
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(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - Authorities say Melissa Ketunuti, a Philadelphia pediatrician, pleaded for her life as she was strangled by Jason Smith, an exterminator working in her home this year.

Pictures: Phila. doctor found dead, bound and burned

That's according to a statement from the 37-year-old Smith that police read in court Wednesday. A judge ordered Smith held for trial on charges including murder and arson.

According to Smith's statement, he attacked the 35-year-old Ketunuti in the basement of her downtown Philadelphia home Jan. 21 after she criticized his work.

The statement says Smith choked her, tied her up and set a fire to destroy evidence. Surveillance video from nearby businesses helped lead to Smith's arrest a few days later at his Levittown home.

Smith's lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.

Ketunuti was a researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Complete coverage of the Melissa Ketunuti case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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