A man was found guilty of murder Friday in the 2010 killing of his business partner in the office in San Juan Capistrano so that he could take control of their company, prosecutors said.
Edward Younghoon Shin, a 41-year-old Irvine resident, and the victim, 33-year-old Christopher Smith, together owned 800xchange, an advertising firm, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
During his trial, Shin testified that the killing happened on accident during a “fight gone bad” on June 4, 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He also said that he feared no one would believe him, so rather than calling 911, he contacted a man in Las Vegas who connected him with another man who disposed of the body for a fee of about $10,000 to $15,000 in cash.
But after Smith died, Shin made up documents that gave him full ownership of the company, forging Smith’s signature, the DA’s office said.
At the time, Smith’s family didn’t yet know of his death.
To cover up the truth, Shin spent months sending emails to Smith’s family posing as the victim. He testified in court that it was the “most awful thing” he had ever done, the Orange County Register reported.
Shin spun tales of Smith having taken off on a chartered yacht with a Playboy Playmate he’d met in Las Vegas, touring South America and told his family he “might never come back,” according to GQ.
But by April 2011, Smith’s family had become suspicious and contacted authorities to file a missing persons report.
Shin was arrested months later, in August, while waiting on board a flight about to take off to Canada at Los Angeles International Airport.
On Friday, a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
Shin will also receive a sentencing enhancement after the jury found true the allegation that he committed the killing for financial gain, prosecutors said.
He is set to be sentenced on Feb. 1, 2019, when he will face a maximum possible sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole.