A convicted drug dealer accused of killing a 20th Century Fox distribution executive who was having an off-and-on affair with the defendant’s estranged wife was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
John Lenzie Creech, 44, was charged with murder, with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, for the May 2012 beating death of Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old married father of three, in a West Hills business park. Jurors found him not guilty on counts of first- and second-degree murder, settling on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Creech, who insisted the slaying was done in self-defense, could have faced a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole if he was convicted of first-degree murder. He faces up to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 19.
Smith’s remains were found in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest in the Antelope Valley about 2 1/2 years after he disappeared.
An eight-woman, four-man jury began deliberating Friday after closing arguments concluded. The panel resumed deliberating Monday, but one male juror failed to show up. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus dismissed the juror, and a female alternate was called to court.
The reconstituted jury — with nine women and three men — was ordered to start its deliberations from scratch, which it did around 10 a.m. The verdict was announced about 90 minutes later.
Marcus said he would reach out to the juror who failed to appear in court to determine what happened.
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SOURCE: NBC Los Angeles