An accused killer’s ex-wife testified Monday that she saw her then-husband beat a 20th Century Fox distribution executive unconscious when he discovered her kissing the victim in the front seat of the man’s Mercedes-Benz.
John Creech surprised the lovers during their late-night rendezvous and “went straight for” Gavin Smith, according to Creech’s wife, Chandrika Cade.
Asked how many times Creech punched Smith, Cade replied, “Honestly, too many times to count. More than a dozen. It just kept going … he (Smith) was unconscious … he wasn’t moving at all and he was moaning.”
Cade kicked her way out of the front seat of the Mercedes and jumped into a family SUV Creech had driven to the scene. She said she pulled the SUV alongside the Mercedes and yelled, “Stop, you’re going to kill him.” When Creech ignored her, she yelled, “You’re gonna go back to jail.”
Creech then ran at her, Cade testified.
“I accelerated and started speeding off and heard him say, ‘You’re next.'”
The alleged events took place May 1, 2012, the night prosecutors say Smith was killed.
Cade told jurors she drove home, locked all the doors and grabbed a kitchen knife to protect herself, adding that she was “terrified and in shock.”
But when her husband returned to the house, his clothes covered in blood, she saw he was calm and let him into their West Hills residence. She later drove him back to within about a block of the beating scene.
“I was afraid of what I would see,” Cade testified.
She said she and Creech burned their clothes in the family fireplace later that night. There was no mention of a 911 call.
Cade is expected to continue her testimony Monday afternoon.
Creech is charged with killing Smith, 57, whose remains were discovered about 2 1/2 years later when hikers came upon a shallow grave in the Antelope Valley.
Creech’s attorney, Irene Nunez, has argued that her client killed Smith in self-defense and then made “errors in judgment” by trying to conceal the body of the former UCLA basketball player, who was on the 1975 NCAA-winning basketball team under Coach John Wooden and had worked for 20th Century Fox for 18 years.
In May 2012, Cade and Creech were living together — along with the couple’s daughter and two children from Cade’s earlier relationship, Cade’s terminally ill grandmother, her brother and a family friend — though they had decided to separate and end their marriage.
“Moving out at that time was not financially feasible,” Cade said.
She said Creech was dealing drugs to make money and told jurors he had assaulted her multiple times since they married in 2007, including at least twice because of her romantic relationship with Smith.
Creech was “always very protective and possessive,” Cade said. Despite the separation and the fact Creech was allegedly seeing other women, including an 18-year-old, he had a “double standard” for her.
“He did not want me to see Gavin ever,” she testified.
Cade and Smith met when she was attending a treatment center for alcohol abuse. Smith was what Cade described as a “co-leader” or “unofficial coach” at The Matrix in Woodland Hills and the two eventually started a romantic relationship while she was still married to Creech.
Cade testified that Creech found out about the affair after reviewing cell phone records and later checking her email.
She said Creech assaulted Smith in 2008 in the parking lot of the treatment facility.
“(Creech) told Gavin to stay away from me and shoved him against the wall,” Cade said.
Cade also corroborated testimony by Smith’s sons that they pleaded with Creech for their father’s life 17 months before he was killed.
Gavin Smith’s youngest son, Austin, told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury last week he and his older brother, Evan, met with Creech at his West Hills home in December 2010 to discuss their father’s affair with Cade.
“I said, ‘I’m in eighth grade. I’m too young to lose my dad,”‘ Austin Smith testified. “I was crying and pleading with him not to do anything to my father.”
Austin Smith, now 21, said Creech told the two they had “saved his (my father’s) life by coming and pleading with him.” But he said Creech told them there would be “problems” if their father contacted Cade again.
Cade said Creech told her about the conversation, and warned her to have “no communication whatsoever” with Smith.
In his opening statement Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told jurors that the threat Creech made to Smith’s two sons was “a downpayment to murder.”
Creech’s attorney countered that the May 1, 2012, confrontation between the two men got physical and her client had to “defend himself” and do a “leg sweep” when Smith came at him wielding something that looked like a hammer and ice pick.
“What we have here is a case of self-defense,” she said.
Creech, a 44-year-old convicted drug dealer, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of first-degree murder and if jurors find true the special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait.
–City News Service