Translate this page

Convicted felon found guilty of beating man to death

Monday, March 17th, 2014
Issue 12, Volume 18.

MURRIETA - An ex-con who beat a homeless man to death with a rock at a Lake Elsinore transient camp was convicted today of second-degree murder.

Jason Lee Schmidt, 37, is expected to receive 31 years to life in prison when he is sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton on May 2.

A Murrieta jury deliberated about two and a half days before finding Schmidt guilty of the murder count, as well as a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation and resisting arrest for the June 2012 slaying of 58-year-old Leopoldo Navarrete.

According to sheriff's investigators, the defendant 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 detectives, Schmidt admitted fatally beating Navarrete with a rock after becoming enraged when he mentioned having molested one of his own grandchildren. Relatives of the victim vehemently deny that he ever had inappropriate contact with a juvenile family member.

Deputy District Attorney Burke Advertisement
Advertisement for Berry-Bell and Hall Mortuary
[ Berry-Bell and Hall Mortuary ]
Strunsky wrote in a trial brief that Schmidt told a fellow cellmate that the killing was "spur of the moment" and regrettable.

No one witnessed the June 14, 2012, attack, though several itinerants told authorities they encountered Schmidt in an agitated state that night, making self-incriminating statements, such as "first kill of the year."

Navarrete was reported missing by family members within a day of his disappearance. A month later, a man walking in the area of Akley and Gillette streets, about two blocks from the homeless encampment, stumbled upon Navarrete's remains.

Based on video surveillance tape from a store where Navarrete and Schmidt were seen around the same time, as well as statements from witnesses, investigators 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.



arrow Be the first to share your opinion on this article!

Add your Comment


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


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 Stellar Solar


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 ©2015
About Us
Earthquake Information
Business Listings
Contact Us
Letter to the Editor
Report a website error
Online Digital Edition
RSS Feeds