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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Man convicted of killing former Little Rascal dies in prison; had chronic condition

CARSON CITY, Nev. - A man convicted of fatally stabbing former "Little Rascals" actor Jay R. Smith and dumping his body in the Nevada desert in 2002 died in prison this week, authorities said.

Charles Wayne Crombie, 64, died Thursday at Northern Nevada Correctional Center's Regional Medical Facility in Carson City. Prison officials said he suffered from a chronic medical condition.

Crombie had been in prison since 2005 and was serving two sentences of 20 years to life, including one for first-degree murder and an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.

Authorities said Crombie was homeless when the 87-year-old former child actor befriended him and allowed him to live in his shed. Smith's daughter reported him missing in mid-October 2002 when she learned neighbours hadn't seen him or Crombie in weeks, police said.

Smith's partially clad body, which had been stabbed multiple times, had earlier been found wrapped in a sheet near Interstate 15 on Oct. 5, 2002.

Police said Crombie admitted to scrubbing the murder scene and pawning Smith's belongings, including a TV and VCR. Officers also said Crombie used Smith's debit card to buy tickets to several movies and withdrew more than $3,200 from Smith's checking account.

Crombie's attorney argued that the murder was not premeditated and his client didn't remember the stabbing.

Smith appeared as a freckle-faced kid in "Our Gang," better known as "The Little Rascals," in the late 1920s.

At a sentencing hearing in 2005, Darlla Wann told Crombie that he not only took her grandfather from her family, but the whole country.

"All he was trying to do was help you get on your feet and you murdered him," she said, according to a KLAS-TV report. "I hope his ghost haunts you every night you lay in your cell until you die."

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