Louisa Man Charged in Orange County Murder Case Returns to Court - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Louisa Man Charged in Orange County Murder Case Returns to Court

Posted: Updated: Dec 6, 2012 09:00 PM EST

The man accused of killing an elderly man in Orange County was back in court Thursday. The hearing took up two motions filed by the defense.

Forty-three-year-old James Smith of Louisa County is charged with first-degree murder, among a slew of forgery and other fraud-related charges.

A judge granted the defense's first request to sever the fraud-related charges from the murder. However, evidence collected as part of the fraud cases will be admissible during the murder trial if it proves motive.

Investigators say Smith was the last person to see 84-year-old James Weaver alive in April. Police believe Smith hit Weaver over the head, killing him. A neighbor found Weaver's body inside his Orange County home.

The defense had filed a second motion seeking the commonwealth to fund expert witnesses, including a handwriting expert, a DNA expert, a medical examiner, a crime scene analyst, a private investigator and a forensic expert.

This is what the judge allowed: five hours for a psychologist to review interview tapes and 15 hours for a forensic expert to assist with DNA and autopsy evidence.

The judge did not authorize these experts to testify at trial. Instead, they are intended to help the defense attorneys prepare.

Smith's trial is slated to start March 12.

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