[UPDATED:] Paul Gentile Smith Gets Life for 1988 Near-Decapitation Murder of Friend

Categories: Crime-iny
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Update, Nov. 29, 1:04 p.m.:  Long Beach 50-year-old Paul Gentile Smith, who was found guilty earlier this month of stabbing, torturing and murdering his long-time high school friend in 1988, was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

At his sentencing hearing, Smith also pleaded guilty to additional charges of recently conspiring with his girlfriend to solicit the attack of the lead investigator in the homicide case.

Haugen's mother and step-father supplied victim's impact statements at today's hearing, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA).

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Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Department
Paul Gentile Smith gets life without possibility of parole.
"Twenty two years later I find myself going through the same pain I experienced when he was murdered in 1988," Janey Perry said of her son. "Finding out the horrific manner in which he was killed will remain with me forever."

"Not a day goes by that I have not missed him," added Edward Perry. "I have wondered what he would have become. Perhaps a husband, a father. None of those things happened because he was murdered before he was given the chance."

The full OCDA
statement on today's sentencing ends this post.

Update, November 2, 6:41 p.m.: Long Beach 50-year-old Paul Gentile Smith was found guilty today of murdering his friend in 1988. Smith faces life in prison at his Nov. 29 sentencing for stabbing, torturing and murdering his long-time high school friend, Robert Haugen. The 29-year-old was nearly decapitated in his Sunset Beach apartment

Smith still faces another trial for allegedly conspiring with his girlfriend to solicit the attack of the lead investigator in his homicide case--for $300.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on Smith's sentencing:

November 29, 2010

MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR MURDERING FRIEND IN 1988 AND SETTING APARTMENT ON FIRE TO DESTROY THE EVIDENCE
*Defendant also convicted of recently conspiring to have lead detective and witness assaulted for $300

SANTA ANA - A Long Beach man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the 1988 cold case stabbing, torture, and murder of his longtime friend. Paul Gentile Smith, 50, was found guilty by a jury Nov. 2, 2010, of one felony count of special circumstances murder with torture and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.

At his sentencing today, the defendant pleaded guilty to additional charges for recently conspiring with his girlfriend to solicit the attack of the lead investigator in his homicide case. For that case, he was convicted of one felony count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, attempted aggravated assault, and two felony counts of solicitation to commit aggravated assault.

Paul Smith's co-defendant girlfriend, Tina Derae Smith, 47, Mission Viejo, pleaded guilty in this case April 2, 2010, to one felony count of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and was sentenced to 240 days in jail and five years of formal probation.

Circumstances of the Murder
On Oct. 24, 1988, Paul Smith murdered his long-time high school friend, 29-year-old Robert Haugen, by stabbing the victim several times, nearly decapitating him. Paul Smith left Haugen's body in the victim's Sunset Beach apartment, set the victim's body and apartment on fire to destroy the evidence, and fled the scene. Firefighters were able to put out the fire before it completely consumed the apartment and Haugen's body. Blood belonging to the victim and an unknown second person was collected at the scene. The case was investigated but went cold.

In 2007, Paul Smith was arrested in Nevada for domestic violence. His DNA was later entered into the national DNA database. In late January 2009, Paul Smith's DNA was linked to the blood found in Haugen's apartment after the murder using DNA technology that did not exist in 1988. Smith was charged with the murder and extradited back to Orange County in March 2009.

During the trial, Smith denied committing the murder and offered an alternate explanation to why his blood was at the murder scene.  He testified that he had been in the victim's apartment to buy drugs the night before the murder, and had nicked himself with a small knife while cutting marijuana. Paul Smith admitted during his testimony that he had violent tendencies and had previously tortured his girlfriend by stabbing her in the leg, opposite to another wound he claimed she had inflicted herself, in order for her to have matching "his and hers" stab wounds.

Paul Smith also admitted during the trial that he had offered sexual favors from his girlfriend to an undercover officer, who he believed to be a hit man, as payment for a murder he was soliciting (see case below).


Haugen's mother, Janey Perry, wrote a victim impact statement for consideration by the court during Smith's sentencing today. Perry explained, "Twenty two years later I find myself going through the same pain I experienced when he was murdered in 1988. Finding out the horrific manner in which he was killed will remain with me forever." The victim's step-father, Edward Perry, also wrote a statements that read, "Not a day goes by that I have not missed him. I have wondered what he would have become. Perhaps a husband, a father.None of those things happened because he was murdered before he was given the chance."

Circumstances of Conspiracy
In November 2009, while in custody for the murder of Haugen, Paul Smith is accused of obtaining a phone number for an undercover police investigator, whom he believed to be a contact that could be paid to assault a civilian witness, Scott M., and the lead detective assigned to his homicide case.

On Nov. 17, 2009, Smith is accused of calling the undercover investigator to request that he "f*** somebody up" in exchange for $300. Paul Smith is accused of providing a detailed description of Scott M., including his cell and home phone numbers, location of his home, and the type of car he drives.

Paul Smith is accused of having several phone conversations with his girlfriend Tina Smith to discuss the plan to have the witness attacked. Paul Smith is accused of providing Tina Smith with the phone number of the undercover investigator, which Tina used to call the investigator to arrange a meeting.

On Nov. 28, 2009, Tina Smith drove to a fast food restaurant in Lake Forest with the intention of paying the undercover investigator $50 as an advance payment to assault Scott M. Tina Smith confirmed the witness' identity in a photograph shown to her by the investigator. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney
Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.

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