The Investigation Discovery series The Perfect Murder explores murderers who almost got away with their crime — cases that leave the investigators stumped and look as though they'll go unsolved. The September 20 episode of The Perfect Murder digs into the disappearance and death of Gavin Smith, a former executive at 20th Century Fox. John Lenzie Creech is still in prison for Smith's death, but claiming he committed a "Perfect Murder" may be inaccurate, as the L.A. Times reports that he was convicted not for a charge of first-degree, or even second-degree murder, but for voluntary manslaughter in 2017. In the eyes of the court, Creech is responsible for the death of Gavin Smith, but is not a murderer. It's a very big distinction.
While Creech was found guilty of Smith's murder in 2017, he had been in prison for years prior to that sentence. The timeline of Smith's death and Creech's involvement, as reported by Heavy.com, starts with Smith being reported as missing in May 2012, being declared dead in May 2014, and his body being found in October 2014. In September of 2012, a few months after Smith's initial disappearance, Creech was sentenced to eight years in prison for sale, or transportation for sale, of a controlled substance, as per KTLA. Between an eight year sentence for the drug charges and an eleven year sentence for his involvement in Smith's death, Creech may not be out of prison until 2034.
Creech might have found himself with a much longer sentence had he been convicted of murder, but is charge of voluntary manslaughter any less severe than first-degree or second-degree murder? NoLo.com defines voluntary manslaughter as a killing that "is strongly provoked (under circumstances that could similarly provoke a reasonable person)" or an instance in which someone "kills in the heat of passion aroused by that provocation." For comparison, FindLaw defines first-degree murder as a killing that is "willful and premeditated," and second-degree as "an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion."
Despite being featured on the show The Perfect Murder, Creech is decidedly not guilty of murder. However, there is no ambiguity in the eyes of the law that Creech killed Gavin Smith.
According to the L.A. Times, the prosecutors in the case claimed that the "heat of passion" that drove Creech to murder reportedly came from an affair. Prosecutors claimed that Smith began an affair with Creech's wife, Chandrika Cade, after meeting in a drug rehab facility. After catching the two one evening, Creech allegedly beat Gavin Smith to death, stored Smith's car in a storage unit, and buried Smith's corpse in a makeshift grave.
Creech's lawyer argued, per The L.A. Times, that Creech had acted in self-defense, and that Smith had attacked him. Creech told the court that during the attack, "My heart was just racing through the roof ... It's weird until you go through it — it's one of those times you're in fog." Whether one considers the crime to be murder or manslaughter, nothing changes the fact that Creech is still in prison for the death of Gavin Smith, and is going to remain in prison for quite some time.