LOS ANGELES (AP) — A convicted drug dealer could face the death penalty after being indicted Wednesday on a capital murder charge in the killing of a 20th Century Fox executive.
John Creech pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court to the elevated charge after prosecutors brought new allegations that he lay in wait to kill Gavin Smith three years ago.
Creech was previously charged with first-degree murder in the death of Smith, whose remains were found in a shallow grave in the desert last fall.
Creech, 42, is serving an eight-year prison sentence for selling or delivering drugs.
Creech's lawyer has said his client defended himself when attacked by Gavin Smith and could have caused a fatal injury.
Smith, 57, vanished in May 2012 after leaving a friend's home in Ventura County. His Mercedes-Benz was found 10 months later in a Simi Valley storage facility linked to Creech. Smith's blood and body tissue, including skin stuck to the car's seat, were found inside.
Smith, a former UCLA basketball player and father of three, had worked for Fox's movie distribution department and was branch manager for several theaters.
Smith was believed to have had a romance with Creech's wife after meeting her in drug rehabilitation, a law enforcement official previously told The Associated Press.