The Shoe Lady’s killer — a boyfriend filled with “anger and rage” who “just lost it” — was sentenced Friday to 16-years-to life in prison.
The murdered “Shoe Lady,” also referred to as the “Queen of Sole,” had amassed a collection of 16,000 shoes and footwear items worth about $500,000, according to published reports. The possessions included heels, sneakers, boots, stockings and even pillows shaped as shoes. She had a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006.
The 32-year-old probationer who used a baseball bat to beat to death his 58-year-old girlfriend — the well- known footwear collector — attacked the woman after she kicked him out of her Menifee home. Menifee is a small city in southwest Riverside County near the I-215 freeway and north of Murrieta and Temecula.
A Riverside jury had in May already convicted Justin Charles Smith of second-degree murder with a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation for the 2013 beating death of Darlene Flynn.
Flynn and Smith had been profiled together months before the fatal attack in a television program showcasing her footwear collection.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner Friday imposed the sentence required by law after considering victim impact statements from Flynn’s loved ones.
Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, but Smith maintained that he did not intend to kill Flynn and was not in control of himself when he pummeled her with a Louisville slugger baseball bat on the afternoon of July 22, 2013.
Among the evidence submitted by his attorneys was a tape-recorded conversation between the defendant and a deputy who arrested him a short time after the attack.
“I don’t remember what happened,” Smith told the lawman. “I just lost it. It was like anger and rage. When it was all done and over with, I just didn’t realize what I did.”
The recording revealed that Smith and Flynn had gotten into an argument the day before about his failure to repay her $50 for fueling his pickup truck to help a friend move.
“She totally lost it (when the money wasn’t returned),” Smith says on the tape. “She started pounding me in the chest with her fists. She threw Tupperware at me from the kitchen. I asked her to calm down, and we went to bed.”
The two slept separately, and the next day, Flynn’s emotions flared again as he slept in, according to the defendant.
“She started shoving me down the hallway, saying ‘you’re an idiot, you’re garbage, get out,’ ” Smith said. “She was making me feel like a bad guy. She always was saying I was stupid and didn’t learn. I have a learning disability from a head injury.”
The defendant had a 2012 misdemeanor conviction for grand theft, which prosecutors said was the result of him selling Flynn’s car without her permission.
Smith told deputies that he was preparing to leave the single-story ranch home at 28875 Stone Lane when he was overcome with rage.
According to the prosecution, as Flynn sat down to relax in her backyard swimming pool, the defendant grabbed the bat, which he said had been left in a corner of the living room for self-defense. He then confronted the victim, sparking another argument that culminated with him striking her four to six times in the head and face, according to trial testimony.
Neighbors heard the commotion and called 911. Deputies arrived a few minutes later and spotted a shirtless Smith standing near the pool.
When he saw the law enforcement officers, the defendant fled. He was located that afternoon wandering along a road, where he was arrested without incident.
A medical examiner testified that Flynn had received “blunt force injuries (with) enough power … to break her skull.”
–Staff and wire reports