John Creech was found guilty on Monday of voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 death of Fox executive Gavin Smith.
The former 20th Century Fox distribution exec’s remains were found in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest in the Antelope Valley in November of 2014 — about two and a half years after he was reported missing.
Creech, a 44-year-old convicted drug dealer, was found not guilty of more serious charges in the killing — first- and second-degree murder. He initially faced a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole, but is now looking at up to 11 years in jail when he’s sentenced on Sept. 19.
A jury began deliberating on Friday in Los Angeles. One juror was replaced when a male juror failed to return to court on Monday, forcing deliberations to start from scratch.
According to NBC4, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told the jury in his closing argument that Smith “was executed in cold blood by this defendant, who hit him repeatedly in the face.”
“This was a tragic fight between two grown men, two flawed men, two imperfect men,” defense attorney Irene Nunez countered. “There was no intention to kill. This was a spontaneous fight.” She said Smith had choked her client and gouged at his eyes before threatening him with a hammer-like tool.
Creech insists that Smith, a 57-year-old married father of three, was having an affair with his estranged wife. He found Smith and Chandrika Cade in a parked car (allegedly by using a cell phone with GPS) and claims he beat him to death in self-defense. Smith died of blunt craniofacial trauma.
Creech first became a prime suspect in February of 2013, when Smith’s black Mercedes-Benz was found in a Simi Valley storage unit in Creech’s name.