Grand jury indicts Kent man for illegally selling gun later used in Illinois murder

A federal grand jury indicted a Kent man for illegally selling a gun later used in a Chicago-area murder.

Benedict C. Ladera, 31, was indicted last week for illegal transfer of a firearm to a non-state resident. He is scheduled to appear Thursday, Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, accordion to a Feb. 14 U.S. Attorney's Office media release.

Ladera, who is not a licensed gun dealer, knowingly sold a .40 caliber handgun to Demetry Smirnov, a Canadian citizen, according to court documents. Smirnov later used the gun in the murder of 36-year-old Jitka Vesel, an Oak Brook, Ill., woman he met online.

Ladera allegedly sold the gun in early April 2011 in Washington to Smirnov. On the evening of April 13, Smirnov used the gun to murder Vesel as she left a museum in Illinois where she volunteered. Smirnov confessed to police. In July, he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, accepting a prison term of life in prison.

Although Ladera had no knowledge of Smirnov’s plan to stalk and murder Vesel, the indictment alleges he knowingly sold the firearm to someone from outside the state of Washington in violation of federal law.

Illegal transfer of a firearm to a non-state resident is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Oak Brook Police Department.

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