Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Man Gets 11 Years In Beating Death Of Fox Executive Who Was Having An Affair With His Wife

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

A San Fernando Valley man was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison after being convicted of beating and killing a 20th Century Fox executive in 2012 who was having an affair with his wife.

John Lenzie Creech, 45, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the beating death of 57-year-old Gavin Smith, a 20th Century Fox distribution executive and married father of three. As reported at the L.A. Times, a downtown L.A. jury turned down the prosecution's claims that Creech had murdered Smith, opting to convict him of voluntary manslaughter instead.

In the trial, prosecutors said that the killing revolved around a romantic tryst that Creech’s wife, Chandrika Cade, was having with Smith. Cade had reportedly first met Smith at a drug rehab center in 2008. Prosecutors said that, on the night of the murder, Creech used an iPhone app to track down Cade, who was off on a secret rendezvous with Smith. Creech then surprised them while they were inside a car, committing “an act of almost stunning brutality” and beating Smith to death, according to prosecutors. Cade fled the scene during the encounter.

Creech’s lawyers argued that he’d fought Smith as an act of self-defense, claiming that, before the killing, Smith had gouged his eyes and threatened him with a tool. They also said that Smith threw the first punch.

Support for LAist comes from

Creech said in trial that, after beating Smith, he’d checked Smith's neck for a pulse and determined he was dead. "I believe any other person in this courtroom would have called 911, would have sought medical help," said Judge Stephen Marcus, according to City News Service. Creech would take the body and bury it in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest in the Antelope Valley. According to CBS 2, the body was found in 2014 by a hiker in the southern region of Palmdale—the discovery came about two and a half years after Smith was reported missing.

Investigators had initially linked Creech to Smith’s disappearance when the latter’s missing Mercedes-Benz was found parked in a storage facility that was linked with Creech. The car was reportedly stained with dried blood.

Creech was already serving an eight-year prison term for the sale or transportation of drugs when he was indicted for the killing, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The jury acquitted Creech of the original charge of first-degree murder, and also of second-degree murder, which could have gotten him a life sentence if he’d been convicted. While the jury did not accept Creech’s claims that he’d acted in self-defence, it seems that they’d accepted a a "heat of passion" argument, according to Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace, reports City News Service.