ACCOMAC, Va. (AP) - A former volunteer firefighter charged in a string of arsons on the Eastern Shore has pleaded guilty to 68 counts.
Media outlets report that 40-year-old Charles Smith III pleaded guilty to 67 counts of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson Thursday morning in Accomack County Circuit Court. He will be sentenced in December.
Smith and his fiancé, Tonya Bundick, were accused of setting fire to abandoned structures between November 2012 and April of this year. They were arrested April 2.
The arson trial of 40 year-old Tonya Bundick has been moved from Accomack County to Virginia Beach.
Substitute Judge Glen Tyler said that he had never seen an Eastern Shore Case receive such publicity and noted that county’s community of firefighters and police officers would probably make jury selection a problem.
In addition, Judge Tyler noted that the charges faced by Bundick’s fiancé 39 year-old Charles Smith could have an impact on potential jurors.
He noted that Smith had been charged with 67 arson counts and one conspiracy count.
That’s the plea entered by 38-year old Charles Smith III in an Accomack County Court this week after being charged with 67 counts of arson in the string of fires that struck the county beginning last November and ending earlier this year.
He is also facing one count of conspiracy to commit arson along with the second suspect 40-year old Tonya Bundick who is also facing one count of arson.
Charles Smith III and Tonya Bundick appeared in a Virginia Court yesterday…facing arson charges as a result of a series of some 70 fires that hit Accomack County late last year and earlier this year.
Judge Gordon Vincent certified the charges against the two Hopeton residents who face, for the moment, one count each of arson and conspiracy to commit arson in connection with the fire at an abandoned building in Melfa last April.
The search warrants in the case of some 70 arsons in Accomack County earlier this year appear to contain information about the motive for the fires.
The Salisbury Daily Times reports that one of those charges in the string of fires 38 year old Charles Smith allegedly told investigators that he and her girlfriend 40 year old friend Tonya Bundick picked out one house because of comments made on Facebook about her.
The warrant said there was probably cause for searching two Facebook accounts belonging to Bundick.
The firefighters struggling with more than 70 arson fires in Accomack County are getting some help from community groups and even those outside the state.
The Salisbury Daily Times reports that local residents have stepped up by gathering items that fire companies need to restock their rehab unit as they find their resources strained by the string of blazes.
The offering range from things like hot chocolate and water to sports drinks and snacks that are coming through local businesses across the Eastern Shore.