A former advertising executive was sentenced Friday to life without the possibility of parole for killing his business partner in their San Juan Capistrano office so that he could take control of the company, then trying to dupe the victim’s family into believing he was alive and traveling the world.
Edward Younghoon Shin, 41, of Irvine, was convicted last December of murder for financial gain in the 2010 slaying of 33-year-old Christopher Smith, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The pair co-owned 800xchange, an internet advertising firm. After the killing, Shin had documents made up giving himself full ownership of the company and forged Smith’s signature, prosecutors said.
Smith was killed in June 2010, but authorities didn’t begin investigating the case until family in Laguna Beach reported him missing to local police the following April.
The family told GQ they’d spent nine months believing Smith had left the U.S. and was living a life he’d long talked about, touring remote corners of the globe.
A lengthy article the magazine published uncovered the bizarre web of lies that started with meeting a Playboy Playmate in Las Vegas and chartering a yacht to South America and ended with gold dealing in Rwanda.
Authorities later determined Smith had been killed inside the 800xchange offices on June 4, 2010. During his trial, Shin testified it happened accidentally during a “fight gone bad,” but investigators believe the victim was purposefully bludgeoned or stabbed to death, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Shin was also convicted of disposing of Smith’s body, which was never recovered.
He was arrested in August 2011 aboard a flight about to take off to Canada from L.A. International Airport.
Days before he was convicted, the defendant testified that he regretted “everything” he’d done after the alleged workplace fight and that sending the bogus emails to Smith’s family was the “most awful thing” he’d ever done, according to the Orange County Register.