UPDATE: Suspect in shooting, burning murders had been arrested 11 times before
The crime that has been haunting East Roseville’s sense of security for more than 10 months came into focus Thursday afternoon, after Placer County Sheriff’s detectives made an arrest in the infamous case of two men being shot in the head and then burned alive in a random driveway just outside the city.
According to Placer County Sheriff spokeswoman Dena Erwin, 38-year-old Joshua Daniel Smith was taken into custody and is being charged with the merciless double homicide. Sacramento County court records confirm that, in the last 20 years, Smith had been arrested at least 11 times on felony charges, resulting in convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm, numerous counts of burglary and a host of other charges.
Smith, a validated Norteno gang member, had been in custody for months in a Sacramento County jail cell for his alleged connection to a recent shooting incident in that jurisdiction.
Smith's first run-in with Sacramento law enforcement was in 1995, when he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. He pleaded guilty to both charges. Over the next decade he picked up convictions for vehicle theft, receiving known stolen property, illegal gun possession and several incidents of burglary. Sacramento court records indicate Smith pleaded no contest to all of the counts.
Not long after Placer County's double homicide, Smith was arrested by Sacramento authorities for his alleged involvement in a shooting. The Sacramento County District Attorney's Office is currently charging him with firing bullets into a dwelling.
“He was given an ordered release from the Sacramento jail and put directly into our custody,” Erwin said Thursday.
While Smith’s shooting case is still pending, he’ll now be held until trial by Placer Sheriff’s officials for the double-homicide on Annabelle Avenue just outside of Roseville. The investigation into that case started in the dark morning hours of June 26, 2015, when a resident on Annabelle Avenue walked outside to investigate a strange fire raging in his driveway. At first the witness thought it was a garbage fire. He soon found out it was two men, engulfed in flames but not dead yet.
The victims were 34-year-old Warren Galsote and 33-year-old Jason Benson, both of Sacramento. Benson had been shot once in the head. The shooter had fired into Galsote’s skull twice. Both men were still alive but died days later. According to Sacramento and Placer county court records, both Galsote and Benson had criminal histories that involved drugs and other convictions. Benson had also been arrested in 2008 by Roseville police for maintaining a drug house in Placer County.
Thursday afternoon, Placer County Sheriff’s homicide Det. Bryan Mattison said that Smith had been a suspect from the very earliest stages of the investigation.
“It took a while for all of the forensic evidence to come in,” Mattison noted. “Different pieces of evidence have been coming back for months. In February, we obtained a warrant for his arrest, but he was held in Sacramento’s custody until today.”
Smith is a Sacramento County resident.
Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at ScottA_RsvPT