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Jury Sat, Trial Resumes in Lake Elsinore Beating Death of Homeless Man

Jason Lee Schmidt is charged with first-degree murder and resisting arrest, as well as a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation. He also has a felony strike on his record.

Jason Lee Schmidt, 37, could face 51 years to life in prison if convicted in the June 2012 slaying of 58-year-old Leopoldo Navarrete.
Jason Lee Schmidt, 37, could face 51 years to life in prison if convicted in the June 2012 slaying of 58-year-old Leopoldo Navarrete.

A jury has been seated for the murder trial of an ex- con accused of beating a homeless man to death with a rock during a confrontation at a Lake Elsinore transient camp.

Jason Lee Schmidt, 37, could face 51 years to life in prison if convicted in the June 2012 slaying of 58-year-old Leopoldo Navarrete.

Schmidt is charged with first-degree murder and resisting arrest, as well as a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation. He also has a felony strike on his record.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton swore in a jury on Wednesday at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. The trial resumes Thursday and is expected to wrap up early next week.

According to sheriff's investigators, Schmidt and Navarrete were loosely associated through encounters at a homeless camp known as the "Olive Groves," off of Adelfa Street and Grand Avenue in the community of Lakeland Village.

In an interview with Riverside County sheriff's detectives, the defendant allegedly admitted killing Navarrete after becoming enraged when he mentioned having molested one of his own grandchildren.

According to the District Attorney's Office, relatives of the victim vehemently deny that he ever had inappropriate contact with a juvenile family member.

A trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky alleges Schmidt told a fellow cell mate that the killing was "spur of the moment" and regrettable.

An occupant of the transient camp told investigators that she heard what sounded like a severe beating on the night of June 14, 2012, though she didn't witness it. However, several other itinerants told authorities they encountered Schmidt in an agitated state that night, allegedly making self- incriminating statements, such as "first kill of the year."

The defendant tried unsuccessfully to torch Navarrete's Toyota Camry, investigators allege.

The victim was reported missing by family members within a day of his disappearance. But it wasn't until July 19, 2012, that a man walking in the area of Akley and Gillette streets, about two blocks from the homeless encampment, stumbled onto Navarrete's partially covered remains.

Based on video surveillance tape from a store where Navarette and Schmidt were seen around the same time, as well as statements from witnesses, investigators obtained and on Aug. 20 served an arrest warrant on Schmidt, who was staying at a group home in the 22000 block of Herbert Street in Good Hope. According to sheriff's officials, the defendant took off running but was quickly apprehended.

Court records show Schmidt has multiple prior felony convictions, including for drug-dealing, burglary and attempted burglary.

He's being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center.


– City News Service.

Serious Sam March 07, 2014 at 04:03 AM
Is it possible that Marty had a harsh unloving childhood that led to these bitter and hateful comments? ........ Huge numbers of persons in the camps during the dust bowl and depression were normal working class persons that previously had jobs and homes. ........ The real unemployment and under-employment rate was closer to 50% instead of the 25% often quoted.
Alek J Hidell March 07, 2014 at 08:32 AM
Exactly the same situation now. the District doesn't dare release the truth about our economy; for it would drag us down even further. And my grandfather lost his farm in Kansas to the Dust Bowl, packed everything they had on top of a model T, and migrated to Monrovia where he picked oranges--.... However, he didn't have multiple felony convictions for drug dealing, nor was he suspected of murder.... No meth back then. its much worse now.
chuck2251 March 07, 2014 at 08:40 PM
AFTER HE IS CONVICTED ,TAKE HIM OUT BACK AND STONE LIKE THEY DO IN IRAN..
Alek J Hidell March 08, 2014 at 02:46 PM
he's already stoned enough

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