Prosecutor gives accused OC “one last chance” to tell authorities where to find the body of his business partner
An Orange County prosecutor on Wednesday gave a murder accused who admitted to impersonating his deceased business partner for months by emailing “a last chance” to tell authorities the location of the body of man as the trial testimony drew to a close.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy presented Edward Younghoon Shin with a map of a large desert strip near the Mexican border and informed him that a search and rescue team, a cadaver dog, and medical examiners were on standby, waiting to find out where they could find the remains of Chris Smith, 33.
“I’ll give you a chance here,” Murphy told Shin, noting that Smith’s family were watching from the courtroom gallery. “Take the blue marker, circle on the card where you put Chris Smith.”
“I can’t,” Shin replied.
Shin during his three days at the stand testified that Chris Smith, 33, attacked him during a heated argument in their San Juan Capistrano office on June 4, 2010, and died after accidentally banging his head against his own desk during the scuffle that followed.
Shin also said an acquaintance put him in contact with someone who got rid of Smith’s body, but he didn’t know where. Shin also admitted to creating a fake buyout agreement giving Shin control of their business, and posing as Smith for at least six months via email in order to feed Smith’s family and friends fake stories of Smith surfing and seeking adventures around the world to cover up death.
“It was a horrible thing to do,” Shin said. “I have caused a lot of pain to a lot of people.”
Smith and Shin were partners of 800XChange, a successful lead generation company focused on the debt consolidation industry. But the two found themselves embroiled in legal issues over Shin’s embezzlement of more than $ 600,000 from his previous employer. During his testimony, Shin admitted to stealing the money, but said he paid Smith $ 33,000, claiming that he gave him the idea of how to proceed with the theft.
Shin had agreed to repay $ 700,000 in order to settle the criminal charges and needed Smith’s approval for a settlement ending a civil lawsuit. Shin testified that Smith kept telling him that the money had to come out of Shin’s personal funds, and said that on the night of Smith’s death, Smith became enraged when Shin told Smith that he could prove that Smith had been involved in the embezzlement.
“He kept pestering me, hammering that ‘this was coming out of your end’ point,” Shin said. “I started to get mad about it and I said ‘are you going to admit someday you played a part in that too. “”
Murphy alleged that Shin stabbed or clubbed Smith to death in order to gain control of his money and gain access to a large stash of gold coins Smith had in his apartment. The prosecutor said Shin used a rented van to dispose of Smith’s body in the desert, linking him to the general area through calls from Shin’s phone to a cell phone tower in the area, although the body has not been found.
Shin continually denied knowing where Smith’s body was taken. He testified that he used the rented van to travel to South America, but said he changed his mind near the Mexican border.
Shin’s trial closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday. If found guilty, he faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.