Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
October 1, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN INDICTED FOR 1988 COLD CASE
STABBING-TORTURE MURDER OF DECADE-OLD FRIEND FROM HIGH SCHOOL
SANTA ANA – A Long Beach man was indicted today for stabbing, torturing, and murdering his decade-old friend from high school and setting the body on fire to destroy the evidence in 1988. Paul Gentile Smith, 49, was indicted by the grand jury on one felony count of special circumstance murder with torture and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole in state prison if convicted. Smith is currently being held without bail and is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment Oct. 8, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) charged Smith in March 2009, and received a superseding indictment today, Oct. 1, 2009. The OCDA released a press release in March 2009 with the following information on the crime:
On Oct. 24, 1988, Smith is accused of murdering his longtime friend from high school, 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 with the murder and extradited back to Orange County in March 2009.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit, who is prosecuting this case, stated in court today that the special circumstance murder with torture charge is due to Smith nearly decapitating the victim in the stabbing murder.