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Edward Younghoon Shin Found Guilty in 2010 CA Slaying of Christopher Smith
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Thread: Edward Younghoon Shin Found Guilty in 2010 CA Slaying of Christopher Smith

  1. #1
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Edward Younghoon Shin Found Guilty in 2010 CA Slaying of Christopher Smith

    Christopher Smith

    Edward Younghoon Shin

    Man charged in business partner's murder

    Police in California have arrested a man in connection with his business partner's death. Investigators believe the man sent fake e-mails for months after the death to cover up the crime.

    In a December 17, Christopher Smith described his paragliding experience in Dunottar South Africa.

    One day after Christmas 2010 another e-mail, in which Smith wrote about heading back up through the Congo.

    Apparently hitch-hiking through South Africa, using gold coins such as Krugerrands as currency.

    Turns out, those e-mails and many more were fake, allegedly by Smith's business partner Edward Shin, now charged with murdering Smith in San Juan Capistrano.

    Mark Billings, Assistant Sheriff, Orange County Sheriffs Dept. says,"The office, shared by Shin and Smith contained blood evidence that was confirmed through DNA to be that of Christopher Smith.
    The alleged motive for his murder was money."

    A million dollars that Shin allegedly agreed to pay Smith to buy out his half of their company, which develooped leads for advertising.

    Billings says, "After several months, Smith's family became suspicious, and hired a private investigator to look into their son's disappearance. During a nearly six-hour interview, Mr. Shin confessed to murdering Mr. Smith in their office in San Juan Capistrano in June, 2010, for purposes of financial gain."


  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Christopher Ryan Smith Family and Sheriff's Department Use Blog in Hopes of Finding Murder Victim's Body

    The family of presumed murder victim Christopher Ryan Smith and the Orange County Sheriff's Department have collaborated to create a blog post they hope will lead to the discovery of his body.

    Posted by sheriff's spokesman John McDonald on the OC Sheriff Blog, the resource includes photographs and video of Smith and a long statement about him and the murder case by his family.

    Before the video and photos, the statement ends with, "The past year has been an otherworldly time spent overwhelmed with misinformation and uncertainty. As the truth behind events is revealed, we ask for privacy as we cope with the surge of emotions and begin to grieve. We miss you Chris, we love you, and will see you again in Heaven."

    Meanwhile, the man sheriff's homicide investigators say has confessed to Smith's murder--but has not given up the location of the body--sent the family dozens of emails posing as Smith and recounting adventures in South Africa and plans to continue traveling.

    Something about them did not sound right to family members who hired a private investigator to help find the 33-year-old. Sheriff's and Laguna Beach Police officials now say those emails were sent by Edward Shin after his business partner Smith was dead.

    Another sheriff's spokesman, Jim Amormino, this week called Shin "a con man." He is accused of bumping off Smith to avoid paying $1 million he owed to buy his partner out at 800xchange, a San Juan Capistrano sales lead generation firm. The Weekly story above includes details about a fraud case involving another lead generation firm Shin worked at that resulted in his being ordered to pay $700,000 in restitution. And KABC in Los Angeles heard this week from someone who claims Shin ripped him off for $500,000 when they were partners at a mortgage business called Residential Finance America in 2003.

    Identifying himself only as "Brian," the man explained to KABC's reporter that he attended Shin's arraignment, which was continued to Sept. 28, for "closure."

    "He doesn't care about anybody but himself," Brian told KABC. "He lived off of our money until we found out and when I confronted him, he basically just disappeared on us.

    "I'm thankful that . . . I can make money again. Someone's lost far greater than what we lost."

    Shin could get the death penalty if convicted.


  3. #3
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    October 18, 2012

    Christopher Ryan Smith's Family Sues Alleged Killer, His Accomplice, Employees and Family

    By Matt Coker
    The Orange County Weekly

    The family of the late Christopher Ryan Smith, whose body has never been found, is suing his accused murderer and business partner Edward Younghoon Shin in Orange County Superior Court. Steve and Debi Smith accuse Shin of stealing their son's identity so he could cash in on the former pro wakeboarder's assets. The Smiths in February filed a $30 million lawsuit against the city of Laguna Beach claiming its police force botched the murder probe now being conducted by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

    But, as detailed by Courthouse News, the legal complaint against Shin includes many details that will no doubt come out in his murder trial. Sheriff's investigators claim the Irvine family man confessed to the slaying, but he pleaded not guilty last May.

    It's easier to make sense out of the Smith family suit against Shin, the 800 Exchange business he and Smith co-founded, 800 Exchange vice president Ernesto Aldover, Shin's parents James and Karen Shin and Shin's accused accomplice Kenny Kraft if we back up several years and work through to where things stand today.

    2008: Smith worked for LeadPoint, a Los Angeles company that generated leads for salesmen, while Shin was with competitor LG Technologies in the San Fernando Valley. Despite being promoted to president of LG, Shin secretly started a third lead generator, LP Services. As the head of LG, Shin hired Smith as a consultant, and LeadPoint fired Smith the same day. Smith cut ties with LG by the end of the year.

    March 2009: Shin left LG under a cloud of controversy.

    April 2009: LG sued Shin, Smith and others in Riverside County Superior Court, alleging fraud, collusion, theft of leads, misappropriation of trade secrets and more. Shin alone was accused of funneling $1 million of LG's money into starting up LP, and LG went after his and his wife's joint bank account. The same day the suit was filed, Shin and Smith co-founded 800 Exchange. According to the Smith family suit, Shin convinced Smith to have Aldover, who is also a lawyer, defend him in the LG case, knowing that as "an inexperienced and malleable solo practitioner working out of a storefront office in Torrance," Aldover would provide incompetent counsel and leave Shin with a financial advantage in their company.

    Late 2009: Police arrest Shin for embezzling money from LG. According to the family suit, this marks Smith's first fears something's "fishy" with his partner.

    May 2010: Shin cuts deals to plead no contest to embezzlement to avoid prison time and settle with LG for $700,000, which included the company dropping its claims against other defendants, including Smith. But Smith now wanted nothing to do with the "confessed embezzler" and made arrangements to have Shin buy him out of 800 Exchange for $1 million, the family suit maintains.

    June 2, 2010: In an email to Smith, Aldover writes: "Based on our discussions, I will insist that the moneys [for the buyout] be put in an escrow first and that the operating agreement be signed before you sign the settlement."

    June 4, 2010: Shin is supposed to complete the buyout, but Smith writes in an email to Aldover that he fears his partner may be up to something and suggests moving the funds to a management company first "to make sure he [Shin] doesn't have room for fraud. He is itching to do it again. Also, we need all statements up to prior day of all activity in the US Louvers account given to us. It can be provided by the bank if need so Ed [Shin] doesn't white out anything WHICH HE WILL TRY." (Note: Brackets and capitals are in the complaint.)

    (That was the last day anyone saw Smith alive. The family, sheriff's investigators and the Orange County District Attorney's office believe Shin lured Smith to 800 Exchange under the pretenses of completing the buyout, murdered his partner and, with Kraft's help, disposed of the body, cleaned up the office and repainted it.)

    Summer 2010: "Chris" began emailing his family, supposedly from around the world, as he traveled off his 800 Exchange windfall. "He" wrote of renting a yacht and hiring a captain and cook in South America. A later email told of sailing around the tip of Argentina while cryptically noting, "I love it down here, might never come back. HA. Just kidding."

    August 2010: "Chris" wrote his family about "doing the unspeakable."

    September 2010: "Chris" wrote he was doing drugs, feeling depressed and contemplating suicide. At the same time, Paul Smith, the missing man's brother, received emails from "Chris" saying he was feeling fine, inviting Paul to meet up with him in Costa Rica.

    November 2010: An email to Smith's parents told of a pending trip to Morocco via Cyprus before sailing to Egypt and going off to the Serengeti and the Congo.

    December 2010: Aldover received an email from "Chris" stating he had withdrawn all his assets from U.S. accounts and was living out his life abroad. "He" later mentioned a trip to Rwanda.

    March 2011: No longer receiving emails and fearing Chris had been killed or committed suicide in Africa, the family filed a missing person report with the U.S. State Department. The State Department advised filing a report with the local police agency where Chris lived. That turned out to be Laguna Beach, but the family claims police dragged their feet, which formed the basis of their later lawsuit against the city.

    July 2011: Two private investigators the Smith family hired rented space in the same San Juan Capistrano building as 800 Exchange. When one P.I. noticed traces of blood on a door jam, the Orange County Sheriff's Department was contacted, because that agency is the city's police contractor. Sheriff's detectives say they found evidence of "a lot of blood" in the 800 Exchange office. DNA testing confirmed it was Chris Smith's blood. Shin was now a murder suspect.

    Aug. 28, 2011: While under surveillance, Shin was seen trying to board a plane for Canada at Los Angeles International Airport. He was arrested and later charged with special circumstances murder for financial gain. Investigators say Shin confessed to the murder, but he has reportedly recanted since.

    Aug. 30, 2011: Kraft was arrested for allegedly helping Shin dispose of Smith's clothing and personal belongings, including his 2009 Range Rover, which was later found in San Jose.

    Aldover, other named defendants and other unnamed Shin family members and business associates are accused in the suit of having helped in the deception, which had Shin stringing the Smith family along long enough to complete the transfer of Smith's funds into Shin's bank accounts in the Cayman Islands in December 2010.

    Represented by Los Angeles lawyer Nicholas Hornberger, the Smiths, who are divorced and reside in Bend, Oregon and used to live in Central California, are seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death by homicide and emotional distress by Shin, fraud by identity theft against Shin and Kraft, legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty by Aldover and fraud through conspiracy by the other defendants. (*corrected paragraph; the Smiths have been married for 36 years, according to Debi Smith, and are still going "stronger than ever.")

    Shin has a Nov. 2 motion hearing scheduled in the criminal case, which could send him to prison for life without parole with a conviction.

    UPDATE, OCT. 18, 2:12 P.M.: After our original post was published, the Weekly was contacted by veteran Irvine defense attorney Mark Devore, who is working with Santa Ana lawyer Al Stokke's office on the Shin defense.

    Devore wanted us to know that on Oct. 13 he filed a writ in the state Court of Appeals seeking the dismissal of special circumstances murder charges against his client "due to insufficient evidence having been presented at the preliminary hearing."

    As such, the defense is seeking a stay of the Nov. 2 motion hearing, added Devore, who noted he has nothing to do with the defense of Shin in the civil lawsuit filed by Chris Smith's family.

    Stay tuned.


  4. #4
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    Bucks County Pennsylvania
    December 4, 2017

    Trial date set for man accused of murdering business partner from Laguna Beach

    By Daniel Langhorne
    The Los Angeles Times

    A January 12 jury trial date was set Monday for a man accused of killing a Laguna Beach resident who was his business partner.

    Edward Younghoon Shin, 40, of Irvine is charged in Orange County Superior Court with murdering Christian Ryan Smith, 32, in 2010 at the San Juan Capistrano office of their advertising and marketing firm.

    Shin pleaded not guilty in May 2012, according to court records. The charge comes with a possible sentencing enhancement on allegations of murder for financial gain.

    In the months before Smith’s death, the pair had argued about money and Shin agreed to buy out Smith for $1 million, authorities said.

    According to police, Shin used Smith’s email account to tell Smith’s family and friends he was going on an African vacation.

    Smith’s family members in Oregon became worried after all communications from him stopped, and they started investigating his possible disappearance in Congo and Rwanda. In April 2011, the family contacted the Laguna Beach Police Department to open a missing-person case after a private investigator learned Shin had been convicted in Riverside County Superior Court of embezzling money from a previous employer.

    Laguna Beach police found no evidence that Smith had left the country and turned over the case to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department homicide unit. Detectives visited Smith’s and Shin’s office and found it had been recently painted and thoroughly cleaned. Forensic investigators searched the office and discovered blood that matched Smith’s DNA, police said.

    After 11 days of surveillance, investigators arrested Shin at Los Angeles International Airport on a Canada-bound plane.

    According to authorities, Shin confessed to killing Smith “for purposes of financial gain” but didn’t reveal the location of his body. Smith’s remains haven’t been found.

    Shin is in custody at Theo Lacy jail in Orange.


  5. #5
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    January 20, 2018

    Murder Trial in Local’s Death Postponed

    By Cassandra Reinhart

    As a chain-shackled Edward Shin shuffled into Orange County Superior Court, his parents closed their eyes and hung their heads.

    Shin, 40, of Irvine, is charged with murdering Laguna Beach resident Chris Smith, 32, in June 2010 after prosecutors allege a deal between the two businessmen went bad. Almost eight years later, Shin still has not stood trial.

    Though his trial was set to start Friday January 12, Judge Thomas Goethals delayed the trial at least a week because the lead prosecutor in the case is engaged in another case.

    “We have accommodated the defense in every conceivable way, and I haven’t filed a single continuance,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy told the judge. “There’s not another prosecutor in the county who knows anything about the Shin case.”

    The prosecution’s case may likely hinge on a motive of greed.

    Prosecutors allege Shin wanted control of the advertising and media relations firm he and Smith co-founded, but didn’t want to pay Smith’s price of $1 million. They say Shin killed Smith in their San Juan Capistrano office in 2010, and forged his signature on documents, relinquishing control of the company to Shin.

    Though Smith’s body has never been found, investigators found traces of blood containing Smith’s DNA at the office even after the office was freshly cleaned and painted. Smith was last seen alive in June of 2010.

    After the murder, police allege Shin posed as Smith by hijacking his email account. Posing as Smith, prosecutors say, Shin concealed his disappearance by sending messages to Smith’s family, telling them he was traveling overseas and surfing in South Africa.

    Growing suspicious, Smith’s family reported him missing to Laguna Beach police in April of 2011. According to online wire service Courthouse News, Shin was arrested by sheriff’s deputies at LAX in August of 2011, about to board a flight to Canada. Though authorities say he originally confessed to killing Smith, Shin later recanted his statements.

    “I have an open file policy, where I open my files to the defense attorneys,” Murphy told the judge. “I told him my strategy was probably not putting on Mr. Shin’s statements. Here we are, I’m jammed and now for the first time the defense is refusing me more time.”

    Shin’s defense attorney, Al Stokke of Newport Beach, is a former Orange County District Attorney. He told the judge he didn’t want to delay Shin’s case further. “We are ready to proceed,” Stokke told Judge Goethals.

    Smith and Shin were colleagues at a previous company, and Shin had previously been convicted of embezzlement at a Riverside County company and ordered to pay $700,000 in restitution, according to the sheriff’s department.

    Though trial is now set for Friday January 19, it may be delayed at least another eight weeks.

    “If we set this matter in March, we have a good chance of getting there,” Murphy asked the judge, who ultimately told the two sides to try to resolve the start of the trial by Friday, or he would intervene.

    Last edited by Moh; 05-07-2018 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Added date

  6. #6
    Senior Member Frequent Poster Steven's Avatar
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    Huntsville, Texas
    Trial begins for man accused in death of business partner in San Juan Capistrano

    By Sean Emery
    The Orange County Register

    It seemed like every lifelong surfer’s dream: cashing out for more than $1 million from a business you grew from the bottom-up and spending the rest of your days riding waves and seeking out other adventures around the globe.

    But for 33-year-old Chris Smith’s suspicious family members, the cinematic tales of backpacking in South America and paragliding near Johannesburg eventually took a darker turn, with mentions of acquiring conflict diamonds and improbable sailing expeditions through pirate-occupied waters near Somalia.

    A missing persons report and the discovery of a blood-stained San Juan Capistrano office later, Smith’s friend and business partner, Edward Younghoon Shin, is on trial for special circumstances murder, with prosecutors alleging Shin, now 40, killed Smith over a business dispute and posed as Smith through email, concocting the tales of world travel to cover up Smith’s death and disappearance. Neither Smith’s body, nor a suspected murder weapon, has ever been found.

    “Christopher Smith loved his family, he had substantial equity in ongoing businesses, he had a serious girlfriend,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy told a Santa Ana jury on Tuesday morning. “Chris Smith had a bright future. He had a financial dispute with Ed Shin. And the evidence is going to show that nobody has seen or heard from him since June 4, 2010.”

    Shin’s own attorneys declined to make an opening statement Tuesday, instead reserving their right to do so later in his trial.

    A devoted surfer who grew up in Watsonville, between Santa Cruz and Monterey, Smith was drawn to the software and advertising industries. After several attempts to create his own tech company – including a sort-of “Facebook for surfers” website called Swellster – Smith joined the “lead generation” industry and began working for a company focused on debt consolidation.

    Smith befriended Shin, who was working for a rival lead generation company, and the two decided to strike out on their own. The prosecutor described Shin as an “affable, charming, articulate guy,” whose former employer gave him substantial control over their incoming revenue.

    With Shin in charge of the financial accounts and Smith focused on software, their new company, called 800XChange, grew rapidly. Murphy described Smith as leading a life many young men strive toward, living in a Laguna Beach apartment with an ocean view, driving a brand-new Range Rover and enjoying a close relationship with his brother and parents.

    Despite their success, Murphy said, problems quickly arose. Shin was regularly flying to Las Vegas to gamble “obscene amounts” at the craps tables, lawsuits filed by the company Shin previously worked for alleged that he had taken company money – possibly up to $900,000 – and had put it into his own bank account, the prosecutor said.

    Shin settled one of the lawsuits, agreeing to pay multiple parties $700,000 within five months, Murphy said. He was on the verge of settling a second lawsuit, the prosecutor added, which would have likely added another $700,000 to $900,000 payout.

    But the second settlement required Smith to sign-off, Murphy said, and as the trust between him and his business partner broke down, Smith was trying to use his leverage to get Shin to agree to reforms at 800XChange that would have given Smith more control and oversight of the company’s finances.

    “We need to make sure he doesn’t have room for fraud,” Smith wrote in an email to his attorney, referring to Shin. “He is itching to do it again.”

    As the deadline to approve the settlement rapidly approached, Murphy said, Shin and Smith remained at their San Juan Capistrano office after all their other employees had left. That night, Smith’s attorney received an email from Smith’s account, claiming he had decided to accept a buyout offer from Shin. The prosecutor said it was the first email of many that Shin would write under Smith’s name.

    Employees were told not to come back to the office the next week, Murphy said, and were met with an overpowering stench when they returned. One employee noticed a dark stain on the carpet near Smith’s office, the prosecutor said, which Shin explained was from Smith spilling red wine and urinating.

    Employees – as well as Smith’s family and friends – were told that Smith had agreed to a buyout, and had immediately left the country. Murphy said Shin allowed Kenny Kraft, an employee he hired after Smith’s disappearance, to drive Smith’s car and live in his home, where Smith’s belongings remained.

    Smith’s father eventually filed a missing persons report with the Laguna Beach Police Department. Investigators learned that Smith’s passport hadn’t been used to enter any other countries, that he had stopped paying rent and that his credit card hadn’t been used in months.

    Police sent crime scene technicians to go over Smith’s old office in San Juan Capistrano and discovered blood stains they tied to him through DNA, Murphy said.

    “It was Helter Skelter,” Murphy said. “There was blood on the ceiling, on the carpet, on the walls, on the furniture.”

    “That man beat or stabbed Chris Smith to death brutally in that office,” Murphy added, pointing to Shin. “There was blood literally everywhere.”

    Investigators believe that Shin used a rented pickup truck to take Smith’s body to the desert. Police, with the assistance of dogs and helicopters, searched an area they traced Shin’s cell phone to through a cell tower, but were unable to locate the body.

    Authorities previously indicated that Shin had admitted to killing Smith.

    Kraft, who was arrested in connection with Smith’s death, has agreed to testify in exchange for immunity.

    If convicted, Shin faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


  7. #7
    Senior Member Frequent Poster Steven's Avatar
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    Huntsville, Texas
    O.C. murder defendant testifies that pretending to be his dead business partner in emails to family and friends was a ‘terrible thing to do’

    By Sean Emery
    The Orange County Register

    A man accused in Orange County of killing his friend and business partner for financial gain testified Tuesday that his decision to pose as the dead man through email for months in order to cover up the death was the “most awful thing” he has ever done.

    Edward Younghoon Shin during his second day of testimony in his special circumstances murder trial admitted to posing as 33-year-old Chris Smith through email and spending at least six months feeding Smith’s family and friends false tales of Smith surfing waves and seeking out other adventures around the world.

    “Do you regret sending those emails?” asked Ed Welbourn, Shin’s attorney.

    “It was a terrible thing to do, to try to convince a family their dead son is still alive, still traveling,” Shin said.

    Prosecutors allege Shin, now 40, killed Smith over a business dispute, brutally beating or stabbing him on June 4, 2010 at their San Juan Capistrano office. Shin says Smith attacked him and died after accidentally hitting his head on his own desk during the ensuing scuffle.

    “Looking back at this situation, do you regret the things you did after the fight?” Welbourn asked.

    “Everything,” Shin replied. “It was wrong on every level not to call police, not to trust that everything would sort itself out, to deceive his family.”

    Shin acknowledged it wasn’t the first time he had pretended to be someone else through email. He admitted that years earlier he had sent his own father an email pretending to be someone who had kidnapped him. Shin said he was having a “nervous breakdown” at the time, and had driven as far as Texas before deciding to contact his father and police and explaining there hadn’t actually been a kidnapping.

    Through several hours of cross-examination, Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy repeatedly pressed Shin on his actions following Smith’s death.

    Shin acknowledged that the first email he sent under Smith’s name the night of his death was to Smith’s attorney, which included a fake buyout agreement giving Shin full control over their company.

    “Your first thought in this panicked state was ‘I can now get his shares of this company?’” Murphy asked.

    “No,” Shin responded.

    “Well, that is what this email accomplishes,” the prosecutor said.

    “Yes,” Shin said.

    If Smith’s death was accidental, Murphy asked Shin why he didn’t call police. They could have either saved Smith, the prosecutor said, or at least confirmed injuries consistent with the fight described by Shin.

    “Chris Smith’s body, alive or dead, is the best way for you to get out of trouble,” Murphy said.

    “In retrospect, yes” Shin said.

    Shin testified that instead of calling 911, he contacted an independent host he knew from trips to Las Vegas, who Shin said put him in touch with another man, who helped him set up a meeting with a man with an Eastern European accent in Long Beach. Shin said he gave the man, who he did not know, either $10,000 or $15,000 in cash, provided him with directions to the office where Smith’s body was located, then returned to the office later to find the body gone.

    Months after Smith’s death, Shin testified that he met with Smith’s father, a former law enforcement officer who had grown suspicious of his son’s disappearance. Shin said he was still trying to steer the father away from learning of his son’s death. But Shin acknowledged mentioning to the father the name of the man he claimed had helped him find someone to get rid of Smith’s body.

    “You give him the name of the one guy on the planet that knows how to reach the guy who disposed of the body?” Murphy asked

    “I guess,” Shin answered.

    Murphy also repeatedly asked Shin if he had taken gold coins that Smith’s girlfriend testified had been stashed at Smith’s apartment, an allegation Shin denied.

    Investigators believe that Shin used a rented pickup truck to dispose of Smith’s body in the desert, though they have been unable to locate the body. Shin said he rented the truck in order to flee to South America, but changed his mind near the Mexican border.

    Shin’s testimony is scheduled to continue on Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


  8. #8
    Senior Member Frequent Poster Steven's Avatar
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    Huntsville, Texas
    Prosecutor gives O.C. murder defendant ‘one last chance’ to tell authorities where to find the body of his business partner

    By Sean Emery
    The Orange County Register

    An Orange County prosecutor on Wednesday gave a murder defendant who has admitted to posing as his deceased business partner for months through email “one last chance” to tell authorities the location of the man’s body, as testimony in the trial came to a close.

    Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy presented Edward Younghoon Shin with a map of a large swath of desert near the Mexican border and informed him that a search and rescue team, cadaver dog and forensic pathologists were on standby, awaiting word of where they could find the remains of 33-year-old Chris Smith.

    “I’m going to give you one chance here,” Murphy said to Shin, noting Smith’s family was watching from the courtroom gallery. “Take the blue marker, circle on the map where you put Chris Smith.”

    “I cannot,” Shin replied

    Shin during his three days on the stand testified that 33-year-old Chris Smith attacked him during a heated argument at their San Juan Capistrano office on June 4, 2010, and died after accidentally hitting his head on his own desk during the ensuing fight.

    Shin also testified that an acquaintance put him in touch with someone who got rid of Smith’s body, but he didn’t know where. Shin also acknowledged creating a fake buyout agreement giving Shin control over their company, and posing as Smith for at least six months through email in order to feed Smith’s family and friends false tales of Smith surfing and seeking out adventures across the world in order to cover up the death.

    “It was an awful thing to do,” Shin said. “I have caused a lot of people a lot of pain.”

    Smith and Shin were partners in 800XChange, a successful lead generation company focused on the debt consolidation industry. But the two became embroiled in legal trouble over Shin embezzling more than $600,000 from his previous employer. During his testimony, Shin admitted to stealing the money, but said he paid $33,000 of it to Smith, claiming he gave him the idea on how to carry out the theft.

    Shin had agreed to pay back $700,000 in order to settle criminal charges, and needed Smith’s sign-off for a settlement ending a civil lawsuit. Shin testified that Smith kept telling him that the money needed to come out of Shin’s personal funds, and said that on the night of Smith’s death, Smith had become enraged when Shin told Smith he could prove that Smith had been involved with the embezzlement.

    “He kept badgering me, hammering that point ‘it was coming out of your end,’” Shin said. “I started getting irritated about it, and said ‘are you ever going to admit you had a role in this too.’”

    Murphy alleged that Shin stabbed or bludgeoned Smith to death in order to get control of his money, and to gain access to a large stash of gold coins Smith had at his apartment. The prosecutor said Shin used a rented pickup truck to dispose of Smith’s body in the desert, tying him to the general area through hits from Shin’s phone at a cell tower in the area, though the body has not been found.

    Shin continually denied knowing where Smith’s body was taken. He testified that he was using the rented pickup truck to drive to South America, but said he changed his mind near the Mexican border.

    Closing arguments in Shin’s trial are scheduled for Thursday. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


  9. #9
    Senior Member Frequent Poster Steven's Avatar
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    Oct 2018
    Huntsville, Texas
    Man who pretended to be his dead business partner in emails to family and friends found guilty of special-circumstances murder

    By Sean Emery
    The Orange County Register

    A man who admitted killing his friend and business partner at their San Juan Capistrano office, then posing as the dead man through email for months to cover up the slaying, was convicted Friday of first-degree murder.

    A Santa Ana jury deliberated for less than an hour Friday morning before finding Edward Younghoon Shin guilty of special-circumstances murder for financial gain for the 2010 slaying of 33-year-old Chris Smith.

    Shin dropped his head and stared down as the verdict was read. Afterward, several of Smith’s family members stepped forward to thank the prosecutor.

    “No family should have to go through anything like this,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said of Smith’s family members, who attended the entire trial. “We are hopeful this can bring some semblance of peace to this family.”

    Prosecutors accused Shin, now 40, of killing Smith in order to get control of his money and gain access to a stash of gold coins at Smith’s apartment. Shin was accused of using a rented pickup truck to dispose of Smith’s body in a desert near the Mexican border, though neither his body nor a murder weapon was ever recovered.

    Shin and Smith were partners in 800XChange, a lead-generation company focused on the debt-consolidation industry. The company was successful, attorneys said, but became embroiled in a legal battle over Shin’s admitted embezzlement from a previous employer of more than $600,000.

    Shin had settled a criminal case related to the embezzlement and agreed to pay back $700,000 in restitution, but needed Smith’s sign-off to settle a related civil lawsuit. Smith had come to distrust Shin, who handled the business end of 800XChange, and wanted Shin to agree to new transparency measures at their company before Smith would approve the settlement.

    Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy told jurors that Shin on June 4, 2010 either bludgeoned or stabbed Smith to death, then immediately sent an email under Smith’s name to Smith’s attorney, which included a fake buyout agreement that would give Shin full control over their company.

    Murphy, during his closing arguments on Thursday, said Shin was worried he wouldn’t be able to come up with the money he needed to pay the restitution required by his legal settlement, and wanted to maintain a lifestyle that included comped rooms in a high-end Las Vegas casino and high-stakes gambling at craps tables.

    “He kills Chris Smith, his problem goes away,” Murphy told jurors. “He gets all the money, and with the money he pays it back, and he doesn’t have to go to state prison. Prison, or Vegas with private jets?”

    “When Chris Smith wouldn’t sign those forms, that guy had an option, and that option was kill him and fake his signature,” Murphy added.

    Shin, who testified that Smith had first suggested he embezzle from his former employer, said Smith exploded and attacked him when Shin threatened to tell authorities about his role in the fraud. Shin said Smith tried to choke him, then continually tried to attack him until Shin grabbed Smith and threw him into his office, leading to Smith hitting his head on the corner of his desk.

    Shin admitted to sending the email with the fake buyout agreement. He also admitted to sending at least six months of emails, posing as Smith to Smith’s family, friends and employees, feeding them wild, cinematic tales of surfing waves and seeking other adventures around the world.

    Shin testified that, through a Las Vegas acquaintance, he got in contact with an unknown, Eastern European man who Shin claimed to have paid $10,000 or $15,000 to dispose of Smith’s body. Shin admitted hiring multiple cleaning crews to clean up the bloody aftermath of his fight with Smith, although they were unable to prevent investigators nearly a year later from finding blood they tied to Smith through DNA all over the office.

    Shin’s attorney, Ed Welbourn, told jurors that Smith’s death was a “fight gone bad.” During his closing arguments, Welbourn acknowledged that Shin made many “unplanned, panicked and reactionary” mistakes after the death that hurt a lot of people, particularly Smith’s family.

    “Mr. Shin did a lot of very bad things after Chris’ death, horrible things,” Welbourn said. “You saw the emails, he did that. He created the story and stuck with that. Emotionally, he tortured those poor people.”

    Welbourn argued that Shin’s actions after the murder didn’t prove that he deliberately planned to murder Smith.

    “You cannot premeditate and deliberate to kill someone after they are dead,” the defense attorney said.

    Shin will be sentenced Feb. 1. He faces life in prison without parole.


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