Gang member convicted in 1994 killing after DNA link
A Los Angeles County jury has convicted a gang member in the 1994 killing of a Studio City man and the attempted murder of the man's wife after DNA tied him to the crime scene.
Jurors deliberated for two days before convicting Kevin Bernard Smith Jr., 36, of the first-degree murder of Rupert “Rudy” Thompson, 73, with the special circumstance allegations that the murder was committed during the course of a burglary and robbery, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist Atty. Daniel Akemon said.
Jurors on Monday also convicted Smith of the premeditated attempted murder of Thompson’s wife.
The case was filed in 2010 when DNA recovered from two bloodstains left at the crime scene was matched to Smith through the state DNA database.
He now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder, plus one life term for the attempted murder. Judge Joseph Brandolino, who presided over the nine-day trial, said Smith was expected to be sentenced June 27.
Prosecutors allege that Smith, armed with a .380-caliber handgun, broke into the Thompson home at 1 a.m on Jan. 26, 1994. During the burglary, Smith entered the victims’ bedroom and shot the wife in the chest. He then shot Thompson in the chest and struck him more than a dozen times over the head with the gun.
A Rolling 20s gang member whose moniker is “Jazzy,” Smith ransacked the home and fled with a typewriter and jewelry. Rudy Thompson was able to crawl out of the house to summon help for his wife before he died on the front lawn of their home. His wife, now 87, survived the attack.
Smith was serving a prison sentence in Mississippi on an unrelated drug sales charge when police matched the DNA.
-- Richard Winton