Suspect in Eastern Shore arsons pleads not guilty

Posted on: 3:36 pm, September 16, 2013, by , updated on: 05:10pm, September 17, 2013

Accomac, Va. (WTKR) – One of the two suspects in the Eastern Shore arson spree entered a plea of not guilty to all charges against him on Monday.

Charlie Smith entered that plea during his arraignment in Accomack County Circuit Court.

Smith was indicted on 68 counts of arson and conspiracy to commit arson by the Accomack County Grand Jury in August.

Virginia State Police have repeatedly said that they believe Smith and his fiancee and co-conspirator Tonya Bundick are responsible for the majority of the 77 fires set on the Eastern Shore between mid-November and early April.

Smith and his attorney had wanted to only wanted to enter a plea on charges 67 and 68 of the indictment, which stem from a fire set on Airport Drive in Melfa in early April.

It was that fire that led Virginia State Police to Bundick and Smith.

Accomack County Circuit Court Judge Glen Tyler disagreed and called for Smith to enter a plea on all the charges against him, advising the he had initiated the arraignment because of a lack of progress in the case.

Smith entered a “not guilty” plea to all 68 counts against him and also requested a bench trial, opting to forgo a trial by jury.

The judge told the Commonwealth’s Attorney and Smith’s attorney to mutually decide on a trial date for Smith by this Friday, September 20.

Tonya Bundick is set to face a jury trial for her arson and conspiracy to commit arson charge in early November.

Also in court Monday,  Judge Tyler granted a discovery motion for evidence by the defense.

He deferred ruling on a motion by Smith’s defense requesting a second psychiatric evaluation on Smith that would examine mitigating factors beyond his mental state during the arsons, as well as an assessment of his future dangerousness.

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