John Creech, 45, was found guilty in July for one count of voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus, while Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace with the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.
Smith was last seen on May 1, 2012, with Creech’s estranged wife Chandrika Cade at a park in Smith’s car. At the trial this summer, prosecutors said Creech beat Smith, while Cade pleaded for him to stop. Creech first became a prime suspect in February 2013, when Smith’s car was found in a Simi Valley storage unit in Creech’s name. Smith’s remains were discovered in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest on Oct. 26, 2014.
Smith and Cade met at a drug rehab facility in 2008 and began an on-and-off affair that year, according to Grace. Prosecutors said on the night of the killing, Creech used an iPhone app to locate Cade, who was meeting Smith in a secret spot, where he beat Smith to death with his bare fists. At the trial, Deputy Public Defender Irene Nuñez told jurors Creech had acted in self-defense after Smith choked Creech and gouged his eyes before threatening him with a hammer-like tool. Smith died of blunt craniofacial trauma.
Creech was not found guilty of first- and second-degree murder — both charges that could have earned him life in prison.