Sub can be tried for murder

Published 1:10 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015

By Debbie Cohen

Staff writer

Eric Brandon Saub of Hampton was deemed mentally competent to stand trial on a charge that he murdered Jean Marie Smith execution-style and dumped her body in a wooded area about a mile north of Isle of Wight Courthouse.

Saub, 29, appeared before Isle of Wight General District Court Judge W. Parker Councill Thursday for the competency hearing. Two psychiatrists testified that Saub understands the charges against him and is thus legally competent to stand trial on the murder charge.

Competency to stand trial relates to a defendant’s mental state after an offense and whether or not they understand the charges brought against them. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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He is also charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Smith, 25, also a Hampton resident and Navy veteran, died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, according to Isle of Wight County Sheriff Mark Marshall.

Hunters found Smith’s body on April 17 in a wooded area near Hatcher’s Lane.

Saub was a tenant of the victim’s grandmother, Mary Hawalka, who also lives in Hampton. 

He was accused of fraudulently opening up bank accounts and credit cards in Hawalka’s name.

According to the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, Saub’s possible motive, including a trip that Saub and Smith made to Florida shortly before she was killed, is under investigation.

Marshall believes Smith was killed April 15 when the couple returned from Florida.

During the hearing, Saub asked repeatedly that his family’s information be removed from the court records. Saub also had a new attorney appointed after his original public defender cited an ethical conflict.

A date for the preliminary hearing is pending.

In addition to charges in Isle of Wight County, Saub has a criminal history dating back to 2007, which involved identity theft, credit card forgery, computer crime and using a false statement to obtain credit.

One of those convictions included stealing more than $50,000 worth of TV’s, computers and computer software from Best Buy, according to a news report in The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon.

Saub, a 21-year-old Best Buy employee at the time, filled out a purchase order for a phony company, loaded the items into a U-Haul truck and delivered them to his own home.

Saub had also admitted to using fake checks to buy several ATVs, make car payments and get cash withdrawals, and said he them to feel better about getting rejected by the U.S. military, according to The Bulletin.

Saub’s defense attorney Thomas Hill had said Saub suffered from mental health issues, and a doctor had testified he might suffer from “delusional disorder, self-mutilation, severe suicidal depression and ‘a loss of personal identity’,” according to The Bulletin. {/mprestriction}