Fox executive's death was case of self-defense, defendant argues on stand

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Defendant John Creech claims self-defense in his trial for beating Fox executive Gavin Smith to death in his own car in 2012. (KABC)

A man on trial for brutally beating a movie executive to death in his own car in 2012 took the stand Monday, looking to convince jurors that he acted in self-defense.

Defendant John Creech, 44, described encountering Gavin Smith, a 20th Century Fox movie executive, in a car with Creech's wife that night.

He said he had been looking for his wife, Chandrika Cade, and was concerned for her safety because she had been drinking.

He says he found her sitting in a black Mercedes with Smith, and was urging her to go home, when he claims Smith attacked him from inside the car. He says Smith punched him, put his hand on his throat and poked him in the eye with his thumb.

"I just went into fight-or-flight mode, at that point especially when he bit down on my thumb," Creech said. "I really tripped out."

The prosecution, however, maintains Creech used his bare hands to beat the 57-year-old Smith to death in a long-planned attack.

They say he later buried his body in a shallow grave and stored Smith's car, first at a friend's home then later, at a storage unit in Simi Valley.

Cade and Smith had a four-year on-again-off-again affair, prosecutors say.

On the stand, a prosecutor questioned Creech why, if it was self-defense, did he not call 911 and instead buried Smith's body in the Angeles National Forest.

The trial resumes Tuesday.
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