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Manslaughter conviction in death of LA studio executive

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/3/2017 By CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press
FILE - This file photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows missing 20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith. A convicted drug dealer was found guilty on Monday, July 3, 2017, of voluntary manslaughter in the beating death of Smith five years ago. Smith's body was found in October 2014. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department via AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This file photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows missing 20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith. A convicted drug dealer was found guilty on Monday, July 3, 2017, of voluntary manslaughter in the beating death of Smith five years ago. Smith's body was found in October 2014. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A convicted drug dealer was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter Monday in the beating death of a Southern California movie studio executive five years ago.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury rejected first- or second-degree murder but convicted John Creech, 44, on the lesser charge in the killing of Gavin Smith, 57, a 20th Century Fox distribution executive.

Creech appeared subdued and showed no reaction when the verdict was read. Sentencing was set for Sept. 19.

The prosecution said at the outset of the trial that Creech killed Smith because Smith was having an affair with his wife.

Creech's defense countered that Creech hit Smith in self-defense after the executive attacked him.

"It was a sad and tragic case," Deputy Public Defender Irene Nunez said after the verdict.

Jurors left without speaking to reporters.

Smith disappeared in May 2012. The district attorney's office said his car was found nearly a year later in a storage facility connected to Creech.

Smith's remains were found in October 2014 in a shallow grave near Acton in the desert north of Los Angeles.

At the time of Creech's indictment, he was serving an eight-year sentence for sale or transportation of drugs.

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