RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — The boyfriend of a 58-year-old renowned shoe collector who was found dead in a backyard swimming pool in Menifee last month pleaded not guilty to her murder on Thursday.
Justin Charles Smith, 29, was charged with murder and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon—a baseball bat—in connection with the death of Darlene Flynn.
After entering his plea in Riverside County Superior Court, a judge scheduled a felony settlement conference for Sept. 3 and left Smith’s bail at $1 million.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call around 2 p.m. July 22 at a residence in the 28800 block of Stone Lane.
Deputies discovered Flynn deceased in the home’s pool. A preliminary examination found that the victim “had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma,” according to Sgt. Todd Torrenti.
Torrenti said authorities saw a shirtless male running from the back of the residence when they initially attempted to enter the home. Hours later, Smith was located and arrested near the intersection of Briggs Road and Highway 74.
Court records showed Smith had a previous misdemeanor conviction for grand theft from 2012. Investigators said he stole Flynn’s car and sold it for profit. In that case, he was sentenced to three years’ probation. Part of the probation stated that he wasn’t allowed to have negative contact with Flynn.
Flynn, known as “The Shoe Lady” and the “Queen of Sole,” had collected more than 16,000 shoes and shoe-related products. She appeared on the TLC program, “My Collection Obsession,” and recently set a Guinness World Record for her number of shoes.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)