FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Mistrial Declared in Man's Fatal Shooting

A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case of a Fountain Valley man accused of murdering a business associate and burglary partner near a Tarzana construction site.

A Superior Court jury deadlocked 6 to 6 in the trial of David Thayne Smith, accused of murder in the shooting death of Stefan Sweetser at a remote Reseda Boulevard site Oct. 16.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Gloria Maria Mas vowed to retry the case. A court hearing is scheduled July 21, when a new trial date will be set.

A co-defendant, Danile Joseph Miller, was convicted in the same case two weeks ago and is to be sentenced today to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Although Smith admitted to police that he was at the site of the slaying, he denied knowing anything about any plan to murder Sweetser. Mas said half of the jurors were not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that when Smith drove to the site he was aware that a killing was going to take place.

Smith and Sweetser jointly owned Visions Windows & Door in Burbank, and with Miller, they robbed construction sites throughout the Valley and sold the spoils at their store, Mas said.

Sweetser's bullet-ridden body was found on the dirt portion of Reseda Boulevard, near Mulholland Drive. Mas theorized that Smith and Miller lured him there under the pretense of burglarizing another construction site.

Prosecutors believe Smith and Miller conspired to kill Sweetser so they wouldn't have to pay him his share of the proceeds of the computer equipment the trio had stolen.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
68°