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Man found guilty in beating death at Lake Elsinore homeless camp

An ex-convict who beat a man to death with a rock at a Lake Elsinore transient camp in 2012 has been convicted of second-degree murder.

Jason Lee Schmidt is facing 31 years to life in prison at sentencing May 2, Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch reported.

A Murrieta jury also found Schmidt guilty Monday of a weapon enhancement and resisting arrest in the death of Leopoldo Navarrete, 58.

A spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney was not immediately available for comment. Investigators with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department also could not be reached for comment.

Navarrete’s body was found in 2012, about a month after family members reported him missing. It was located in a rugged area near Akley and Gillette streets in Lakeland Village, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“His feet looked like they had been eaten off by coyotes or something, and his body was badly decomposing,” Investigator Robert Cornett said during a preliminary hearing, according to the Union-Tribune.

Cornett testified Schmidt had mentioned the killing to acquaintances, the newspaper reported. He also said Schmidt admitted to the act when he was interviewed after his August 2012 arrest.

In his testimony, Cornett said Navarrete was too intoxicated to drive following a party in Lakeland Village and had asked Schmidt to drive.

During the drive, Schmidt became angry because he thought Navarette was talking about having committed child molestation.  

It was then that Schmidt drove to a homeless camp and got out of the car. Navarette followed him, and they were involved in a scuffle.

Cornett said Schmidt picked up a rock and began bashing Navarette with it.

“In his own words — ‘I hit Leopold until my arms could not move,' ”  the investigator said, according to the newspaper.

Riverside County court records show Schmidt had prior criminal convictions, including drug and burglary charges.

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