Translate this page

Trial Begins for Ex-Con Accused of Killing Lake Elsinore Man


Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
Issue 10, Volume 18.


MURRIETA - Jury selection got underway today 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 summoned prospective jurors to the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta for screening as to their availability and qualifications. Opening statements in the case are expected tomorrow or Wednesday.

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.

According to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky, Schmidt told a fellow cell mate that Advertisement
Advertisement for Carrington Home Loans
[ Carrington Home Loans ]
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. However, 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.

According to court records, Schmidt has multiple prior felony convictions, including for drug-dealing, burglary and attempted burglary.

Schmidt is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center.


 

2 comments

Comment Profile ImageAshley
Comment #1 | Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014 at 9:28 am
I would REALLY like people to stop saying he was homeless. Leo wasn't homeless. He was live-in care for a sick relative and very loved...and very missed...
Comment Profile Imagemichele o
Comment #2 | Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014 at 8:47 pm
I 100% agree, Ashley. Leo was loved by his family, was not homeless, and half of what they printed (from who knows what source) is not true. Not sure how you knew Leo, but I knew him very well and know this to be true.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

Add your Comment


Name

Images, Formatting, or HTML is not allowed : plain text only. You may post up to 5 website addresses within your comment.




Disclaimer

The Valley News has tightened its' policy regarding comments.
While we invite you to contribute your opinions and thoughts, we request that you refrain from using vulgar or obscene words and post only comments that directly pertain to the specific topic of the story or article.
Comments that are derogatory in nature have a high likelihood for editing or non-approval if they carry the possibility of being libelous.
The comment system is not intended as a forum for individuals or groups to air personal grievances against other individuals or groups.
Please, no advertising or trolling.
In posting a comment for consideration, users understand that their posts may be edited as necessary to meet system parameters, or the post may not be approved at all. By submitting a comment, you agree to all the rules and guidelines described here.
Most comments are approved or disregarded within one business day.

RSS FeedFacebookTwitter



Advertisement for Crown Hill Pizza





Subscribe


Most Commented


Reach Local Customers



The Valley News The Valley News
760-723-7319 - 1588 S. Mission Rd. Suite 200, Fallbrook CA 92028
All contents copyright ©2014
About Us
Earthquake Information
Business Listings
Contact Us
Letter to the Editor
Report a website error
Sitemap
Online Digital Edition
RSS Feeds
Login