Eastern Shore serial arson suspect pleads guilty

Posted at 10:00 AM, Oct 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-31 17:38:19-04

Accomack Co., Va. (WTKR) - One of two people charged in a five-month spree of fires on the Eastern Shore admitted he was guilty Thursday.

Charles "Charlie" Smith III entered a guilty plea for all 68 charges of arson and conspiracy to commit arson in Accomack County Circuit Court.

It was a change of course for Smith, who had entered a plea of not guilty to the charges in mid-September.

His attorney, Carl Bundick, says the evidence they reviewed, including 4 DVDs of taped interviews Smith did with police the morning he was arrested, changed the plea.

"After spending hours and hours and hours reviewing those documents, that then changed the tenor of the plea from the not guilty plea to the guilty plea," Bundick stated.

Smith's guilty plea was not part of a plea deal. His attorney says none was offered and instead, he hopes the court will look favorably on Smith's cooperation.

"I’m hoping that his cooperation will be of great benefit to him and there are going to be future opportunities for cooperation that I hope he will take advantage of," Bundick explained.

When asked by NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo if that would include testifying against his co-defendant Tonya Bundick, Smith's attorney said "That’s an uncertain answer at this particular point in time."

Smith's attorney, Carl Bundick, is of no relation to Tonya Bundick.

Tonya Bundick is only facing one count of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson for a fire that occurred in early April in Melfa.

She was set to go on trial in Virginia Beach next week after a change of venue motion was approved, however, her lawyers were removed from the case Tuesday citing a conflict of interest.

Her trial is now delayed until new representation can be appointed.

After their arrest in early April, Virginia State Police said Bundick and Smith were responsible for the majority of the 77 arsons to mostly abandoned buildings in Accomack County between November 2012 and April 2013.

Under his guilty plea, the maximum punishment Smith faces is up to 584 years in prison and more than $5 million in fines.

Smith will likely be sentenced in December.

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