joshua hart pleads not guilty in death of 95-year-old man

95-Year-Old Man Killed, Elderly Wife Critically Injured: Massachusetts Couple Held Without Bail In Home Invasion Death

A 95-year-old man described as active and energetic was stabbed to death in Massachusetts during an Oct. 5 home invasion. The two people charged in the crime were arraigned today, and the judge ordered that both be held without bail. Neither suspects’ attorneys requested that bail be set.

During separate arraignments in Orange District Court on Friday, not guilty pleas were entered to multiple charges, including attempted murder and murder, on the behalf of both charged for the home invasion that ended with a 95-year-old man being killed. Suspects Joshua Hart and Brittany Smith both hail from Athol, Massachusetts

Suspect pleads not guilty in murder of 95-year-old man
Brittany Smith appears in court Oct. 14. [Image by Dave Roback/The Republican via AP, Pool]

According to WCVB, Smith, 27, and Hart, 23, are charged with murdering Thomas Harty and causing serious injury to his wife, Joanna Fisher, 77, who was confined to a wheelchair, says MassLive. The crimes occurred in Orange, Massachusetts, on Oct. 5, as Harty and Fisher watched television. According to a statement of alleged facts released by the office of Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, Hart and Smith spied Harty through a window, then burst into the home, and immediately attacked him with a knife. Smith went to Fisher, hitting her and knocking her out of her wheelchair unto the floor, where her throat was cut by Smith, who also tried to suffocate her.

Prosecutors believe the motive for the home invasion was to procure money and a car so that Hart could flee the state to avoid being arrested for an unrelated crime. For her part, Smith wanted to leave the area to avoid a drug treatment program. Both were looking to begin a new life. The two were looking in particular for a car without GPS, so they could not be tracked. They left the home with a cell phone, credit cards, and cash, and found inside the elderly couple’s 2003 station wagon.

Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci gave a statement regarding the home invasion that resulted in the death of a 95-year-old man.

“The plan was devised to allow them to escape and start a new life.”

All told, Smith and Hart were in the Harty/Fisher home for approximately two hours. When they left the residence, Harty had been beaten and stabbed, and then suffocated. Fisher was able to crawl her way to the phone, only to find it had been disabled, and the alleged murderers had stolen the cell phone of the 95-year-old man.

The statement of allegations published by MassLive say Fisher was forced to remain inside of the home until health care workers, who had been previously scheduled to visit the home, arrived at approximately 9 a.m. the next morning. After they called for help, Fisher was taken to Worcester’s University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Fisher remains hospitalized, according to MassLive, as she recovers from being beaten, nearly suffocated, and sustaining a cut to the throat.

WCBV reports a credit card stolen from the 95-year-old man was used within hours of the home invasion at a Walmart in Worcester, but the transaction was denied. The sale was then completed with Fisher’s debit card. Investigators found a surveillance video, a crucial investigative tool, which was also useful in this crime, as reported by Inquisitr, on which a car matching the one stolen in the home invasion was seen in the parking lot, and Smith and Hart were seen inside the store shopping together.

The two alleged murderers were arrested in Rockbridge County, Virginia. They were discovered inside a rental truck parked outside of a Walmart on Oct. 7.

Court documents reveal Hart admitted to bringing a knife to the home and murdering the 95-year-old man. He also said that he tried to help Smith suffocate Fisher. Smith admitted that she had worked with Hart. They will both remain in jail until a second court date in December. If convicted of murder, the mandatory sentence is life in prison with no chance of parole.

[Featured Image by Dave Roback/The Republican via AP, Pool]

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