A Salt Lake County man arrested in connection with the beating death of the son of an actress and TV producer was ordered Tuesday to remain this week in jail without bail.
John Tavo Leota, 18, 773 E. 6775 South, was booked into the county jail Monday night for investigation of criminal homicide in the death of Malik Smith, 18, the son of actress Beverly Todd and producer Kris Kaiser.Third Circuit Judge Philip Palmer on Tuesday ordered that Leota be held without bail until 5 p.m. Friday, the deadline for prosecutors to file formal charges.
According to a probable cause statement filed with the court, Leota hit and kicked Smith, 18, during a fight at Club 35, 1959 W. 35th South.
Leota was arrested Monday night, shortly after Smith was pronounced dead at University Hospital.
Smith came to Utah for an annual ski vacation along with two friends Saturday morning. The three went to Club 35 Saturday night.
West Valley Police Detective Thayle "Buzz" Nielsen said Smith was hit once in the face and knocked to the floor. The victim was kicked in the face after he had fallen to the floor. The beating apparently followed Smith's attempts to ask certain girls to dance.
Witnesses reported seeing the victim beaten by an "arrogant Tongan" with a "flat-top haircut," wearing a blue bandanna, according to a West Valley police report. The blue bandanna is symbolic of the "Crips" gang, which originated in Los Angeles.
Detectives are looking into a possible gang connection, but Salt Lake Police Detective Monte Kramer said police have no such evidence at this point.
The homicide has attracted the attention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, of which Todd is a member. A local NAACP representative and one from Hollywood were in 3rd Circuit Court Tuesday morning trying to find out the status of the case.
The victim's mother has been in about two dozen TV series, including "Hill Street Blues," "Magnum P.I.," "Lou Grant," "Benson," "Quincy." In addition to the current release, "Lean On Me," she has been in several movies, including "Baby Boom," "Moving," "Max Dugan Returns," and "Clara's Heart."
Todd was in New York promoting the film "Lean on Me," in which she plays an assistant principal. When she heard about the incident, she came to Salt Lake City, as did the victim's father.