|For Immediate Release
March 9, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND CHARGED WITH 1988 COLD CASE STABBING-MURDER OF DRUG DEALER AFTER DNA BLOOD MATCH
SANTA ANA – Charges were filed Friday against a Long Beach man for stabbing and murdering his high school friend, a drug dealer, and setting the body on fire to destroy the evidence in 1988. Paul Gentile Smith, 48, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison if convicted. Smith is currently being held without bail in Nevada on a domestic violence probation violation. He will face extradition proceedings in Nevada at a date and time that is to be determined.
On Oct. 24, 1988, Smith is accused of murdering his high school friend, marijuana-dealer Robert Haugen, 29, in the victim’s Sunset Beach apartment. He is accused of stabbing Haugen 18 times, leaving the body on the bed, setting the victim’s body and apartment on fire to destroy the evidence, and fleeing 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, Smith was arrested in Nevada for domestic violence. His DNA was later entered into the national DNA database. In late January 2009, Smith’s DNA was linked to the blood found in Haugen’s apartment after the murder. The DNA technology used to link Smith to the murder did not exist in 1988. Smith was charged Friday, March 6, 2009, with the Orange County murder and is pending extradition.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.