LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A man accused of killing a 20th Century Fox distribution executive told a courtroom Monday the victim initiated a fight and tried to gouge out his eye.

Defendant John Creech testified that he found his now-ex-wife and victim Gavin Smith in the front seat of a Mercedes-Benz parked in a West Hills business park on May 1, 2012.

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According to the 44-year-old Creech, he went looking for his wife because she had been drinking before she drove away from their home late that night. He says he used a cell phone app to track her location.

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When he approached the car, Creech said he knocked on the passenger side window and told
his wife to “walk home and sober…up.”

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“Soon as I lean inside the car … (Smith) leans forward with a left and punches me,” Creech told the jury, which was comprised of eight women and four men.

Creech is charged with killing Smith, 57, whose remains were discovered almost three years later when hikers found a shallow grave in the Antelope Valley.

Defense attorney Irene Nunez has argued that her client killed Smith in self-defense and then
made “errors in judgment” by trying to conceal the body of the former UCLA basketball player, who was on the 1975 NCAA-winning basketball team under Coach John Wooden and had worked for 20th Century Fox for 18 years.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Creech could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)