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Man allegedly tried to hire investigator to assault detective, witness in his murder case

October 19, 2010 | 11:57 am

A Long Beach man faces trial Wednesday for allegedly torturing and killing his friend, then conspiring from jail to hire an undercover investigator to assault the lead detective on the case and a witness, prosecutors said.

The charges against Paul Smith, 50, stem from a cold case more than a decade old. In 1988, 29-year-old Robert Haugen's body was found nearly decapitated in his burning Sunset Beach apartment.

The homicide case remained cold until 2009, when DNA that Smith submitted after his arrest in a domestic-violence case in Nevada was matched to blood left behind in Haugen's apartment, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Smith, who was a longtime high school friend of the victim's, was charged with murder and sent back to Orange County. After several months in jail, Smith got hold of a phone number for an investigator he thought he could hire to assault the lead detective on his case and a witness, prosecutors said.

Smith called the investigator and asked him to carry out the assault on the witness for $300, providing a detailed description of the man, including the location of his home, prosecutors said.

Smith's girlfriend, Tina Smith, 47, allegedly met with the investigator at a fast-food restaurant in Lake Forest with the intention of paying a $50 advance for the assault. She has already pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

Paul Smith is charged with one count of murder and several counts relating to the assault conspiracy. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

-- Robert Faturechi

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