Suspects arrested in Virginia for home invasion in Massachusetts plead not guilty

By Chelsey Allen - Producer

WWLP Staff/ WSLS 10 Staff - ORANGE, Mass. (WWLP/WSLS 10) – A man and woman who were arrested in Virginia for a deadly home invasion in Massachusetts will remain in jail while they await trial.

Joshua Hart and Brittany Smith are accused of murdering 95-year-old Thomas Harty and critically wounding his 77-year-old wife Joanna Fisher in their home on October 5.

Fisher later died but it's unclear whether she died from the injuries she sustained during the attack.

The Northwestern District Attorney's Office says the medical examiner should know her cause of death in the coming weeks.

Both suspects pleaded not guilty Thursday during their arraignment at superior court in Greenfield, and were ordered held without the right to bail. They had earlier been arraigned in Orange District Court.

"I characterize this as a savage murder," said Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci "that's the only adjective you can use to capture just how brutal this was and how senseless this was."

Bucci said both individuals had stolen multiple items from homes in Massachusetts the week before the murder and that this was part of the motive.

Hart and Smith are charged with:

  • Murder
  • Attempted Murder
  • Two Counts of Home Invasion, one naming each victim
  • Two Counts of Armed Robbery, one naming each victim
  • Conspiracy
  • Larceny over $250
  • Larceny of a Motor Vehicle
  • Receiving Stolen Property
  • Unauthorized Use of a Credit Card

The suspects were arrested in Rockbridge County four days after the attack, and were indicted on murder charges last month.

Mary Carey, spokesperson for the Northwestern District Attorney's Office, said if Hart and Smith are convicted of murder in the first degree, they face a mandatory sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

Hart and Smith are not due in court again until late June.

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