Man convicted of killing friend in 1988

A Long Beach man was found guilty Tuesday of stabbing a Sunset Beach man to death before setting him and his apartment on fire in 1988.

Paul Gentile Smith, 50, was convicted of the cold case murder of his friend from high school, Robert Haugen.

The jury found him guilty of special circumstances murder with torture and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.

Smith faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of all charges. He is expected to be sentenced Nov. 29 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

He must go before a jury again for charges of conspiring to have the case's detective and a witness murdered.

Smith stabbed Haugen on Oct. 24, 1988, several times, almost taking off his friend's head.

He then left Haugen's body in his Sunset Beach apartment and set it on fire.

Firefighters got the flames under control before all the evidence was destroyed, and investigators were able to collect blood from an unknown person.

The case went cold until Smith's DNA was matched with the blood collected at the crime scene in January 2009.

—Britney Barnes

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