‘Onion Field’ Killer Sentenced for Drugs

Convicted “Onion Field” killer Jimmy Lee Smith was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty in Van Nuys Municipal Court to a misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of heroin.

Smith, 59, of Van Nuys, the paroled killer of a Los Angeles police officer, was arrested on May 1 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly lunged at a man with a butcher knife, said Deputy City Atty. David S. Kestenbaum.

Smith was charged with heroin use after arresting officers noted that he appeared to be under the influence of the drug.

The district attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Smith on the assault charge. But because drug use is a violation of Smith’s parole, he faces a hearing to determine whether he should be returned to prison, said Kestenbaum.


Smith served 19 years in prison for the 1963 killing of Los Angeles Police Officer Ian Campbell near Bakersfield, a crime detailed in the Joseph Wambaugh novel, “The Onion Field.”