A Louisa County man has pleaded guilty to murdering an elderly man.

James Melvin Smith entered the first degree murder plea Friday afternoon in Orange County Circuit Court for the death of 84-year-old James Weaver. Melvin could face life in prison.

Weaver was bludgeoned to death inside his Orange County home in April of 2012 and was found by a neighbor who regularly checked on him.

Investigators discovered Smith worked off and on at Weaver's home and later tracked him down in West Virginia. Smith was originally charged with first degree murder along with a slew of forgery and other fraud-related charges. But in December of last year, a judge granted a request to separate the murder charge into a separate case from the others, but said any evidence indicating a motive would be allowed in the murder case. Those fraud and forgery charges are still pending in Orange County.

Smith is set to be sentenced for the murder on December 6.  



Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney
Press Release

James Melvin Smith pled guilty as charged to the first degree murder of James O. Weaver this afternoon in Orange County Circuit Court.  The maximum possible punishment is life in prison; the Court will hold sentencing on Friday, December 6, 2013, at 9:30 a.m.  There is no agreement as to sentencing between the Commonwealth and the defendant and both will argue for an appropriate sentence on that date.
Diana H. Wheeler, Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney stated, "The Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office extends its sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Mr. Weaver. While this will not restore Mr. Weaver's life, this outcome will enable the Commonwealth to seek the maximum punishment and spare Mr. Weaver's family a multi-week trial."
Mr. Weaver was found bludgeoned to death in his home on April 12, 2012, by a neighbor who checked on him every morning.  Through the course of their investigation, the Orange County Sheriff's Office discovered the Defendant worked off and on at Mr. Weaver's home doing odd jobs.  The Defendant's whereabouts were traced to Charles Town, West Virginia, where he was apprehended.  Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Clarissa T. Berry summarized the evidence for the Commonwealth describing Mr. Weaver as a loving, friendly man who was devoted to his friends and family who was tragically murdered.
In accordance with Virginia law, the Court ordered sentencing to be held on December 6, 2013, at 9:30 a.m.