Squaw Valley murder: Man admits dismembering body to cover up another man's crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Squaw Valley man admitted to cutting up and burying a body last year but says he did it to cover up another man's crime.

Billy Silks didn't kill Gary Duane Smith, but he spent a lot of time with Smith's dead body.

He woke up on July 5, 2018 -- the day Smith died -- to a woman panicked and asking for help.

"What did she tell you?" prosecutor Nathan Lambert asked Silks.

"That Roger shot Gary and Gary was dead," Silks said.

Roger Johnson is charged with Smith's murder.

RELATED: Murder arrest at Squaw Valley drug operation ends months of agony for missing man's family

Witnesses say he shot Smith in the head through his locked front door, on a property known for drug operations.

Silks wanted to know why.

"I just asked him why he did it, like what was going on," he said. "And that's all that he said, 'He didn't have to taunt me.'"

Silks says Johnson told him to get rid of the body, but never gave him marching orders or specific instructions.

Silks actually disposed of Smith's body four times:

First, covered in plywood off to the side of the house.

Then, the same day, Sammy Wood drove him to a remote road near Johnson's property and Silks covered the body in brush.

A couple of days later, Silks and Wood say they moved it further off the road and covered him with rocks in a creek bottom.

And a couple of weeks after that, Silks says he went back out there and tried to hide Smith's body in a shallow grave.

"I cut the body in half," he said. "So that I did it alone, by myself."

"So you took it upon yourself to dismember the body?" asked defense attorney Jeremy Snell.

"Yes.," Silks said.

It was six months before Silks finally led one of Smith's friends to his body.

"I cried and said 'Gary, I'm so sorry about what they did to you,'" said Karen Ruby Jones.

Johnson's defense attorney isn't denying his client shot Smith, but he's building a self-defense argument.

Wood says Smith was pounding on the door to the house the day after getting kicked out, so he grabbed a rebar.

"Gary's a big boy compared to me, a really big boy and I was kind of scared of him," he said.

On Tuesday, Wood pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the murder. He'll get probation.

Silks pleaded no contest to being an accessory and improperly disposing of the body. He could get more than three years in prison.

And a judge decided Tuesday there's enough evidence for Johnson to stand trial for murder.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.