John Lenzie Creech is guilty of manslaughter in the death of Hollywood executive Gavin Smith, in 2012
A California man has been convicted of manslaughter for beating a 20th Century Fox movie executive who had an affair with his wife to death with his bare hands.
John Creech was acquitted on first- and second-degree murder charges for the killing of Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old when he disappeared in 2012.
Prosecutors said at the beginning of the long-running trial that Creech, now 44, killed Smith, a married father of three, because the distribution executive was having an affair with his wife after they met in a rehabilitation program.
John Lenzie Creech is seen during an arraignment in Jan 2015 where he pled not guilty to the 2012 murder of Hollywood executive Gavin Smith
Smith’s car was found in a storage facility connected to Creech nearly a year later, though his remains were not discovered until October 2014, when hikers came across them in a shallow grave.
The skull was found with blunt force trauma.
A lawyer for the killer, who has been in prison on cocaine charges, said in 2015 that her client began hitting Smith in self-defense after he found him and his wife on a residential Los Angeles street.
The defense team said during the trial that 42-year-old John Creech had engaged in “mutual combat” with Gavin Smith, 57, in a Los Angeles neighborhood, during which Smith suffered a fatal injury
Attorney Irene Nuñez said in her closing arguments that Smith had choked Creech and tried to attack him with a weapon similar to an ice pick, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Creech’s team also said that while he was aware of the affair, he was separated at the time of the death and was involved in another relationship.
Authorities had earlier revealed their suspicions about a relationship between Smith, a married father with three sons and Creech’s wife. The pair met in a rehabilitation program.
After Smith vanished his remains were not found until two and half years later, in this shallow grave in Angeles National Forest
Prosecutors said the killing was premeditated and pointed to Creech’s use of an iPhone app to track his wife, though the jury rejected the two murder charges.
Creech faces up to 11 years in prison during sentencing in September.
Smith was last seen leaving a friend’s Oak Park, Calif., home in his car on May 1, 2012. Smith’s Mercedes was recovered in February of 2013, in a storage unit linked to convicted drug dealer, John Lenzie Creech, with evidence found inside the car suggesting that he was killed inside, authorities said at the time.
The skeletal remains identified by dental records as 57-year-old Gavin Smith were discovered by hikers in a shallow grave in Angeles National Forest two and a half years later, on Oct. 26.
Gavin Smith was married with three sons
Investigators had said that the 6-foot-6 Smith who was part of UCLA’s 1975 National Championship basketball squad before breaking into acting, then management was killed within a week of his disappearance.
Creech was already behind bars serving eight years on unrelated drug charges for transporting and distributing cocaine, when the district attorney filed murder charges against him in January 2015.
Chandrika Cade testified that her ex-husband, John Creech, lashed out over a four-year period when she had an on-and-off affair with 20th Century Fox movie executive Gavin Smith. It led to her lover’s death
Chandrika Cade testified that her ex-husband, defendant John Creech, lashed out over a four-year period when she had an on-and-off affair with Gavin Smith which began when both Cade and Smith were estranged from their respective spouses.
Cade who was a witness to the fight between the two men teared up as She testified, telling the court that she feared Creech, but stayed with him despite the punishing outbursts.
“Just really rough with me. Just hustling me around and hitting me in the face,” Cade said.
The rivalry between Creech and Smith came to a head when Creech followed Cade to a late-night rendezvous, which she said resulted in a bloody flurry of punches that ended Smith’s life: “Honestly, too many times to count. More than a dozen,” she said of the fight. “He wasn’t fighting back or anything. He wasn’t even pushing away. He wasn’t moving at all…”
Cade said that she fled the scene as Smith was out cold.
She testified under grant of immunity, that she later burned the clothes off Smith’s body and talked about how Creech enlisted friends to hide Smith’s blood-smeared car and his body.
Creech’s defense asked Cade why she didn’t go to the police.
“Because I thought I’d get in trouble for telling them later instead of immediately,” Cade said.