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Police: Philly doc pleaded for life during attack

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Authorities say a Philadelphia pediatrician pleaded for her life as she was strangled by an exterminator working in her home this year.

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

According to Smith's statement, he attacked 35-year-old Melissa Ketunuti in the basement of her downtown 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.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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