Drug dealer guilty of manslaughter in Fox movie exec's slaying

John Creech

CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — A convicted drug dealer was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of a southern California movie studio executive whose remains were found more than two years after he went missing, reports CBS Los Angeles.

John Lenzie Creech, 44, was charged in the May 2012 beating death of Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old married father of three who worked as a distribution executive for 20th Century Fox. Smith was a former UCLA basketball player who was on the 1975 NCAA championship team.

Smith vanished in May 2012 after leaving a friend's home in Ventura County. His Mercedes-Benz was found 10 months later in a Simi Valley storage facility linked to Creech. Smith's blood and body tissue were found inside.

Smith's remains were later found in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest in October 2014.

Creech was found not guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the killing, but was convicted on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. 

The prosecution said at the outset of the trial that Creech killed Smith because Smith was having an affair with his wife.

Defense attorney Irene Nunez has argued that her client killed Smith in self-defense and then made "errors in judgment" by trying to conceal the body, reports CBS Los Angeles. 

Creech took the stand last month and testified Smith started the confrontation after he found the executive in the Mercedes-Benz with Creech's now ex-wife, parked in a West Hills business park on May 1, 2012.

He reportedly said Smith attacked him and tried to gouge out his eye after he knocked on the car window.

Creech faces a maximum of 11 years in state prison.