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North Quabbin slayings expected to go to trial in 2018

  • Lewis H. Starkey III, 53, of Wendell is escorted out of the courtroom after pleading not guilty to two charges, including one for murder, at Franklin Superior Court Friday. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Lewis H. Starkey III, 56, of Wendell pleaded not guilty to two charges, including one for murder, at Franklin Superior Court Sept. 29, alongside his lawyer, Jennifer Cox. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Brittany Smith enters Franklin County Superior Court Dec. 13, followed by Joshua Hart. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Brittany Smith, sitting at left between her lawyers, and Joshua Hart, sitting to the left of his lawyers, listen to their statements being played aloud in Franklin County Superior Court Wednesday morning followed by Joshua Smith. December 13, 2017 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Joshua Hart and Brittany Smith

  • Joshua Hart, who has been charged for the murder of 95-year-old Thomas A. Harty, leaving his injured wife, Joanna Fisher, for dead and the theft of their car and money after invading their home on October 5, 2016, is led into Franklin County Superior Court in Greenfield for arraignment Thursday, January 5, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Loved ones of Orange residents Thomas A. Harty and Joanna Fisher sit in Franklin County Superior Court in Greenfield for the arraignment of Joshua Hart and Brittany Smith Thursday, January 5, 2017. The pair have been charged with the murder of Harty and the attack on Fisher, leaving her for dead during the October 5, 2016 invasion of their home. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Joshua Hart, who has been charged for the murder of 95-year-old Thomas A. Harty, leaving his injured wife, Joanna Fisher, for dead and the theft of their car and money after invading their home on October 5, 2016, stands before superior court judge Mary Lou Lup in Franklin County Superior Court in Greenfield for arraignment Thursday, January 5, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • From behind a glass barrier, Joshua Hart, 23, is arraigned in the murder of a 95 year old Orange man in Orange District Court on Friday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Brittany Smith enters Franklin County Superior Court Wednesday morning. December 13, 2017 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Brittany Smith enters Franklin County Superior Court Wednesday morning followed by Joshua Hart. December 13, 2017 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • From behind a glass barrier, Brittany E. Smith, 27, of Athol, is arraigned in the murder of a 95 year old Orange man in Orange District Court in October 2016. Recorder Staff file photo/Paul Franz

  • From behind a glass barrier, Brittany E. Smith, 27, of Athol, is arraigned in the murder of a 95 year old Orange man in Orange District Court in October 2016. Recorder Staff file photo/Paul Franz

  • From behind a glass barrier, Brittany E. Smith, 27, of Athol, is arraigned in the murder of a 95 year old Orange man in Orange District Court in October 2016. Recorder Staff file photo/Paul Franz

  • Lewis H. Starkey III, 53, of Wendell pleaded not guilty to two charges, including one for murder, at Franklin Superior Court Friday, alongside his lawyer, Jennifer Cox. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon



For the Bulletin
Friday, January 05, 2018

The new year is expected to mark the beginning of the end of two ordeals that shook the North Quabbin community — the trials of two young adults accused of murdering an elderly couple during a home invasion in October 2016 and that of a middle-aged man believed to have shot and killed his girlfriend in July 2017.

According to the Northwestern district attorney’s office, Joshua Hart, 25, and Brittany Smith, 29, could face trial in March or April in the death of 95-year-old Thomas A. Harty during an Oct. 5, 2016, home invasion at 581 East River St. in Orange and for their alleged role in fatal injuries to Harty’s 77-year-old wife, Joanna Fisher. Fisher died five weeks after the incident due to complications from her injuries.

In the other case, Lewis H. Starkey III, 53, could face trial this year in the murder of 48-year-old Amanda Glover. Police allege Starkey shot Glover with a 12-gauge shotgun in the house they shared in Wendell.

Hart and Smith, both of Athol, also are accused of ransacking the home in search of cash after the attack and fleeing, taking the victims’ credit and debit cards as well as the keys to a Toyota Matrix. They were apprehended in Virginia. According to a statement from Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan, prosecutors allege the suspects wanted to steal Harty and Fisher’s vehicle to flee because they had been arrested days earlier on car theft charges. Hart, who had warrants in his home state of Pennsylvania, wanted to avoid jail and Smith, a heroin addict, did not want to go to drug rehabilitation, according to the district attorney.

The combined charges they both face include: two counts of murder, two counts of home invasion (one naming each victim), two counts of armed robbery (one naming each victim), conspiracy, larceny over $250, larceny of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a credit card. Hart and Smith pleaded innocent to all charges.

Orange Police Chief Craig Lundgren said prosecution of the suspects will likely provide some closure to the victims’ families, though he hesitates to say it would put an end to the nightmare.

Wendell killing

Starkey, the Wendell murder suspect, was arraigned on July 10 after evading police for five days before being captured. He pleaded innocent to one count of murder and one count of armed assault with intent to murder in connection with Glover’s homicide and the assault on her adult son on July 5 in Wendell.

Orange Police Sgt. James Sullivan found Starkey driving on Holtshire Road, with the suspect allegedly telling the officer, “You got the prize.” According to court documents, Starkey told the Orange Police he had been living in the woods and sleeping in Glover’s car, which he took from the crime scene. He was indicted on Sept. 8 by a Franklin County Grand Jury.

“This was a cold and brazen execution that happened in plain sight of Amanda Glover’s own adult son,” First District Attorney of the Northwest District Steven Gagne said on July 10.

After Starkey’s arraignment, Gagne said the violence was “the culmination of what had been some growing tension” in the relationship between Starkey and Glover.

Glover’s 26-year-old son, Devin, who Gagne said was living at home, is said to have witnessed the shooting, which allegedly happened after an argument between his mother and Starkey.

Following the shooting, Devin fled into his bedroom, according to Gagne said. Starkey then fired several rounds into the closed bedroom door, court documents said. Starkey is being charged with armed assault with intent to murder for this alleged action.

Police say Starkey later drove more than an hour to a trucking company in Chicopee and fired a shot through a window at a worker there, injuring the employee with debris and glass shards. It was believed Starkey was a former employee of the company.

“We’re never going to forget that this happened in our town,” he said. “When you live in a community like this as long as I have, I think you start to get a sense like bad things like this don’t happen in small towns, and this was a very somber wake-up call for all of us that it can happen anywhere. But 2I still feel that we live in a safe community. … This was a senseless act of violence by two cowards.”

Chief Trial Counsel Jeremy Bucci, who is prosecuting Hart and Smith, has previously raised the possibility of holding the trials of Hart and Smith concurrently with two separate juries in the same courtroom. He acknowledged that this is quite rare, though it would be more convenient for out-of-state witnesses and experts.

Judge John Agostini heard evidence earlier this month on the defense’s motion to suppress information. The hearing on this motion will continue in January.