US & Canada

Ronni Chasen killing: Police link ex-convict to murder

Ronni Chasen
Image caption Ronni Chasen was shot and killed last month while in her car in Hollywood

A Hollywood publicist killed last month was probably shot to death by a bicycle-riding ex-convict in a "robbery gone bad", police have said.

Laboratory tests showed Ronni Chasen was killed by the same gun that Harold Martin Smith used to kill himself as police approached him for questioning.

Ms Chasen was shot in the chest multiple times while driving her car in Beverly Hills last month.

Beverly Hills police Sgt Mike Publicker called it "a random act of violence".

"With Mr Smith's background, we believe it was most likely a robbery gone bad," he said.

Although investigators insisted they had not definitively solved the Ms Chasen's murder, they said Mr Smith probably travelled to and from the crime scene by bicycle.

'Well-known figure'

Ms Chasen, 64, was on her way home from attending the premiere of the Cher movie Burlesque, which she had been promoting.

Police approached Mr Smith after being tipped off by a viewer of the US television show America's Most Wanted.

Image caption Police said Harold Smith's criminal record spanned 25 years

Neighbours at the run-down apartment building where Mr Smith lived and later killed himself have said he boasted about the killing.

Mr Smith had been convicted twice of burglary and was most recently released in 2007 following a sentence for robbery.

The attack shocked Hollywood, where Ms Chasen was a well-known figure. She had promoted the Oscar-winning film Driving Miss Daisy and other major movies and stars since the 1970s.

The publicist was remembered by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer as he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday.

Zimmer told the crowd he had known Ms Chasen since he worked on the music for Driving Miss Daisy.

"She approached me about a star and I was against it until she convinced me that I deserved it," he said, going on to dedicate the plaque to his "great friend Ronni".

The 53-year-old has written music for scores of films, among them The Lion King, The Dark Knight and Gladiator.

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