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Trial Ordered in Killing of 8-Year-Old Boy : Crimes: A former day-care worker was ordered Monday to stand trial for murder, kidnaping and arson in the killing of Paul Bailly.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Canoga Park man was ordered Monday to stand trial in the slaying of an 8-year-old Northridge boy who was gagged and strangled, then set afire near Simi Valley on March 23.

Ventura County Municipal Judge Lee E. Cooper Jr. ruled that there is enough evidence to prosecute Gregory Scott Smith, 21, on charges of murder, kidnaping and arson in the death of Paul Bailly. Following a five-hour preliminary hearing, sheriff’s deputies returned Smith to jail without bond to await arraignment in county Superior Court on June 18.

Paul was kidnaped after his mother dropped him off at the Darby Avenue Elementary School day-care center. His body was found on fire several hours later in a field. The next day, police arrested Smith, a fired day-care worker who witnesses said had threatened Paul Bailly.

County Coroner Dr. F. Warren Lovell testified that Paul was “strangled with the thumb and forefingers of the hand” and then suffocated after vomiting while his mouth was taped shut.

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Lovell testified that a pair of handcuffs found near Paul’s body could have slipped off his wrists during the fire, which was set after the boy died.

Paul’s mother, Mary Bailly, sat stiffly in the courtroom during Lovell’s testimony, showing little emotion. She did not look at Smith, who rested his chin on his hands and clicked his leg irons together beneath the defense table.

Witnesses testified that Smith was an immature, vengeful day-care worker who singled Paul out for punishment at the Darby Avenue Elementary School latchkey program and once threatened him.

Smith often threw balls at Paul and frequently “benched” the boy, forbidding him to play with other children, testified Nichole Garrett, 11.

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“There was really no reason for him to be benched,” she testified.

Paul complained about the frequent benchings to the program supervisor one day, the girl said. “I heard him say that he didn’t want Greg to work there any more, that he wanted him fired.”

Smith walked into the office and overheard Paul’s comments, then muttered to him in the hallway afterward “that he was gonna get him back for it,” the girl testified.

Smith had worked part time, beginning in September, 1988, in latchkey programs at Darby, Andasol and Chatsworth Park elementary schools.

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He was fired from Andasol and Chatsworth Park on Dec. 13 for benching children without good cause, and for once forcing children to clean up another child’s vomit, testified the latchkey program’s regional executive director, Harold Kuhn.

Smith promised that day to “try harder to do a better job,” Kuhn testified.

But Kuhn said he and fellow supervisor Ellen Pollack were forced to fire Smith from Darby on March 6 because “he was not supervising the youngsters the way we would expect.”

Kuhn said Smith often left children unsupervised on the playground and once abandoned them to help a woman fix her car alarm.

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Kuhn also testified that Smith once asked Paul, “Where did you get those clothes from, Goodwill?”

Kuhn said Smith threatened to “get me back” for being fired, and told him, “I’m not out to get the children, I’m out to get you.”

“The last thing he said to me was a comment that he would get me. He said he was going to report us to the Health Department” for letting children use the same bowl of dip at snack time, Kuhn testified.

Witnesses also testified that Smith had handcuffed children twice before he was fired, once to punish a child in a summer recreation program in 1988, and about a year ago during play with a kindergartner.

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Mary Bailly testified that she last saw her son alive at 7 a.m. on March 23 when she dropped him off at Darby Avenue Elementary School.

Julio Gramajo, a Rocketdyne employee who was riding to work with a friend that morning, testified that he saw Smith driving Paul through Canoga Park along Saticoy Street just before 7 a.m. Gramajo said the pair looked like “a big brother taking a kid to school,” but he also saw a pair of handcuffs hanging from the passenger door arm rest.

At 11:50 a.m. that day, motorists found Paul’s body in a burning field in the Santa Susana Knolls area.

Before taking him into custody they allowed Smith to speak to his mother, Sharon Smith.

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Sharon Smith testified that her son whispered to her, without being asked, that he threw out a pair of handcuffs.

Smith also testified that she found a pair of blue shorts in the dryer, from which a piece of fabric was cut.

The fabric matched the wad of blue cloth which investigators found in Paul’s mouth under four layers of duct tape, testified sheriff’s criminologist Edwin Jones Jr.


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