Prosecutors have told jurors in Downtown L.A. a former UCLA basketball player and Fox Entertainment executive who vanished in 2012 was killed in an act of, ‘almost indescribable violence.”
“This particular defendant had murder on the brain,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace said in opening statements Thursday.
Grace said convicted drug dealer John Creech threatened to murder Smith years before the killing, then made good on that promise the night of May 1, beating Smith to death with his bare hands.
“He [Smith] was killed in his Mercedes Benz in an act of almost stunning brutality,” Grace said, and then showed jurors photos of Smith’s skeleton as it was found in a shallow grave more than two years after the disappearance.
Grace said Creech was enraged that his wife and Smith had rekindled an affair that began years earlier.
Later, Creech’s defense attorney told jurors Smith was an angry, scary, aggressive man; a towering obsessive weightlifter who’s own wife told police he was apt to pick fights.
“Gavin pulls him into the car and starts choking John,” lawyer Irene Nunez said in her opening remarks.
“Starts choking him, to the point that John is afraid for his life,” she said, and characterized the killing that followed as self-defense, with some, “errors of judgment,” in burning evidence and burying the body in the desert near Palmdale.
Smith's wife was called as the first prosecution witness after lunch.
Lisa Smith recounted the day her husband went missing and described how she filed a report with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.
The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.