Trial begins for man accused of murdering 20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith

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A spurned husband tracked down his wife and a 20th Century Fox executive during a romantic rendezvous and beat the man to death in his car, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday, June 15, 2017, but the defendant's attorney called the man's killing "a case of self-defense."

Opening statements began Thursday in the trial of a man accused of killing a 20th Century Fox executive in 2012.

John Creech, a convicted drug dealer, has been charged with murdering Gavin Smith in a case that began as a prolonged mystery.

Smith had been widely reported as a missing person in media reports. Two and a half years later, his remains were found in a shallow grave.

Prosecutors say Creech murdered the victim in a jealous rage, alleging that Smith had been having an on-again, off-again affair with Creech's wife, Chandrika Cade. Both Cade and Smith had been battling addiction to prescription drugs and met in a rehabilitation program.

A violent altercation allegedly occurred between Smith and Creech in May 2012 after Creech discovered his wife and Smith having a romantic escapade inside Smith's Mercedes-Benz sedan.

A jury has been asked to decide whether Creech committed first-degree murder - by lying in wait, premeditating the attack - or simply defended himself and then panicked, disposing of the body when he realized Smith was dead.

Defense attorneys described Smith as a former UCLA basketball player who stood 6 feet 6 inches tall and frequented a gym, while Creech is 6 feet 1 inch tall and not as fit.

The defense said Smith grabbed a hammer and an ice pick and confronted Creech. Prosecutors said the victim was killed by the defendant's fists, which struck Smith's skulls in a one-sided fight.

"All of the blood that was tested by the sheriff's department came back to Gavin Smith," said L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace. "None of the blood that was tested inside the car came back to this particular defendant, John Creech."

Defense attorney Irene Nunez countered: "Errors in judgement were made after the act of self-defense - but he had to defend himself against this angry, scary, intimidating, cruel man."

Nunez depicted Smith as an "intruder into the lives of (Creech) and his wife, an intruder into his marriage."

Members of Smith's family will be among the first witnesses to testify in the trial, according to the district attorney's office. His sons are expected to recount some ominous statements Creech allegedly made months before the attack, which they interpreted as threats against their father.

If convicted as charged, Creech faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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