Police believe Smith killed Rupert Thompson, 73, in January 1994.
Thompson and his wife were sleeping in their home in North Hollywood when they were awakened by noises coming from another room.
An intruder shot Thompson and his wife. Thompson was able to chase the suspect out of the house. Thompson's wife collapsed, but survived the shooting. Thompson died a short time later.
A North Hollywood detective reopened the case about a year ago using physical evidence that had been taken from the murder scene. A DNA match was linked to Smith who was serving time in Mississippi. Smith was returned to California last month and is awaiting arraignment.
The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this story.