July 20, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Convicted drug dealer indicted for murder of executive

(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

A convicted drug dealer already charged with the murder of a 20th Century Fox distribution executive who was missing for 2 1/2 years before his body was found in the Antelope Valley was indicted today on a single murder count — with the charge now carrying a potential death sentence.

John Creech, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charge included in the indictment and is due back in court April 27, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The indictment includes the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

Creech is accused of the May 2012 killing of Gavin Smith, who played basketball at UCLA in the 1970s.

Smith, 57, was last seen between 9 and 10 p.m. May 1, 2012, leaving a female friend’s home off Kanan Road in eastern Ventura County in his black 2000 Mercedes-Benz 420 E. Prosecutors allege he was killed on May 2, 2012.

His car was recovered on Feb. 21, 2013, at a storage facility in Simi Valley that authorities said was connected to Creech.

Smith’s remains were found in a shallow grave by a man walking with his dog last Oct. 26 in a rural area on the south side of Palmdale near the border with Acton.

Creech is already serving an eight-year term for his no contest plea in September 2012 to one count of sale or transportation for sale of a controlled substance.

In June 2012, detectives and a SWAT team raided a West Hills home owned by Creech. The Los Angeles Times later reported it had obtained documents indicating sheriff’s deputies felt an unspecified felony related to Smith’s disappearance may have happened there.

Smith met Creech’s wife, Chandrika Creech, in some sort of rehab therapy, according to the newspaper, which reported that Creech has denied knowing Smith, despite his wife saying otherwise.

Sheriff’s Lt. David Dolson has said that after detectives found Smith’s car, they served several search warrants in the San Fernando Valley and began investigating the death as a homicide “based on the vehicle’s condition and information developed from persons cooperating in the investigation.”

Creech was originally charged Jan. 29 with Smith’s killing.

His attorney, Alex Kessel, said earlier that there “may have been a fight, but I can tell you there was no criminal intent … There was no malice. There was no intent, no premeditation for any type of homicide to take place.”

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