|For Immediate Release
Case # 07CF1791
March 21, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
HUSBAND SENTENCED FOR MURDERING WIFE
WITH FIREPLACE TOOL AND STAGING CRIME
SCENE TO LOOK LIKE A BURGLARY
SANTA ANA – A husband was sentenced today to 25 years to life for murdering his wife by beating her with a metal fireplace tool and ransacking his own house to make the crime scene look like a burglary. Marvin Vernis Smith, 71, Cypress, was convicted December 17, 2007 of one felony count of murder for the death of Minnie Smith.
In the early morning of December 15, 2005, Smith executed a plan to murder his 66-year-old wife Minnie and stage it to look like a burglary. While Minnie was in bed in the couple’s home, Smith attacked the victim by hitting her repeatedly in the face and over the head with a metal fireplace tool, killing her by fracturing her face and skull. Smith then tied the victim’s hands behind her back and duct taped her ankles together. Minnie was left murdered on the floor, naked from the waist down. Smith then went through his house to stage a fake crime scene by pulling out drawers, removing valuable items, and ransacking the home. He wiped off the bloody fireplace tool and returned it to the rack, left the television on upstairs and then left the house and went to work. Smith managed three apartment complexes in Los Angeles that he and Minnie had purchased after selling a liquor store they owned in Los Angeles.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Smith returned home and called 9-1-1 to report a burglary. When police arrived, Smith told officers that he had gone into his house and noticed that it had been burglarized. He claimed that he ran out of the house without checking for his wife upstairs because he heard voices. Police determined that the “voices” were from the television Smith had left on. On December 22, 2005, officers took Smith back to his home to walk through and determine which items had been “stolen.” Smith specifically described a jewelry box with two items, a large Cadillac chain medallion with diamonds and a large gold “M” medallion, that he claimed had been stolen. He gave several inconsistent statements in the home compared to the statements he made the night of the murder.
The following day, on December 23, 2005, police searched one of Smith’s Los Angeles properties while Smith was not present. When officers opened the trunk of one of Smith’s cars, they found a jewelry box hidden under a jacket containing the two medallions that Smith had described. Approximately 30 minutes later Smith arrived at the property and was arrested for murdering his wife.
Marvin and Minnie Smith had been married for 28 years. Minnie, who had worked as a security executive for an international defense contractor, retired in 2003 to spend more time at church and with her grandchildren.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.