A convicted drug dealer was indicted Wednesday on one count of capital murder in the death of a 20th Century Fox executive and former UCLA basketball player who disappeared in 2012 and whose body was found in a northern Los Angeles County national forest last October.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said 42-year-old John Creech was charged with the special circumstance of lying in wait in the murder of 57-year-old Gavin Smith. Smith was last seen leaving a friend's home on May 1, 2012.
Creech pleaded not guilty to the charge. The special circumstance makes Creech, currently serving an eight-year jail sentence for sale or transportation of drugs, eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Authorities said they believe that Smith was murdered in his car before his body was dumped in a shallow grave in a California national forest.
Smith's remains were found Oct. 26 in the Angeles National Forest, in rural Palmdale. At the time, Lt. Dave Dolson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's homicide bureau said the manner and cause of death had not been determined, but added, "There's indications that there was some trauma."
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told the Associated Press that when authorities found Smith's Mercedes-Benz in 2013, there was enough blood and body tissue to believe he'd been killed.
Smith, who played college basketball for legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden, was last seen alive leaving a friend's home in Ventura County the night of May 1, 2012, in his black, 2000-model Mercedes-Benz 420 E.
In February 2013, investigators acting on a tip found Smith’s car in a Simi Valley storage locker linked to Creech. Undisclosed evidence discovered in the car indicated Smith had met with foul play, police said at the time.
A SWAT team and police detectives had already raided an LA-area home owned by Creech a month after the executive disappeared in a search for evidence of a felony sources said may have been related to Smith's disappearance. Smith had reportedly met Creech's wife, Chandrika Creech, in rehab, although Creech has denied knowing Smith.
A dog accompanying hikers alerted the group to human remains on Oct. 26 in what Dolson described as "rugged and vast" terrain. Authorities confirmed through dental records that the remains belonged to Smith.
Smith, a married father of three, was estranged from his family at the time of his disappearance. He was officially declared dead on May 1, 2014.
Smith worked in the movie industry for 18 years and helped distribute blockbuster hits such as "Avatar" and the "Star Wars" trilogy. The executive, who was 6 feet, 6 inches tall, was also a member of UCLA's 1975 national championship men's basketball team.
FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.