FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County Circuit Court judge denied bond on Monday for a Front Royal man who was indicted on armed robbery charges in January.
Eric Wyatt Smith, 18, appeared with his new counsel on Monday for a bond hearing after the court denied him bond in December.
Caleb Routhier, Smith’s attorney, told the court he was recently appointed to Smith’s case and said the court should hear the bond appeal because Smith was recently declared competent to stand trial. Routhier said Smith was granted bond in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in December but the Circuit Court denied his bond.
Routhier noted that aside from a failed appearance after he was incarcerated, Smith had never missed a court appointment, a probation meeting or a drug test. It put him in the awkward position, Routhier said, of making the argument that Smith’s appearance record was better when he was out on bond than when he has been held.
Routhier called Smith’s father and grandmother to testify to the court that Smith would have a place to stay if the court granted him bond.
Smith’s grandmother, who lives in Warrenton, told the court that Smith could stay at her home and that her husband, who is retired, would be home to ensure he didn’t leave the home. She also told the court that she would have no problem calling the police if Smith violated any of the terms of his bond — such as leaving the house for any reason other than medical or court appointments.
Smith’s father, who lives in West Virginia, testified as well that Smith would be under the constant eye of someone and that they would provide transportation for Smith to his court appearances.
Police arrested Smith in June and charged him with the abduction and armed robbery. Investigator Daniel Maxfield testified that Smith was a driver in an armed robbery and stole the gun that was used in the robbery. Maxfield said that, according to the co-defendants' statements, Smith gave the gun to the person who committed the robbery.
Maxfield said the co-defendants and the victim all placed Smith at the scene of the incident.
Information about the incident is scarce because Smith was a minor at the time. His case was originally in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Samantha Meadows, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, argued that while the court heard from Smith’s father and grandmother, it did not hear from the two people who would supposedly be responsible for watching Smith.
Meadows also said that the commonwealth was concerned that one of the proposed places for Smith to stay was in West Virginia.
Smith was on supervised probation when he was arrested for his alleged role in the armed robbery, Meadows said and it wasn’t clear that if he was granted bond that he would be prevented from committing other crimes.
Routhier argued that the co-defendants in the robbery case had all been granted bond and said it was the court’s duty to equally apply justice. If they had been granted bond against the presumption — showing that they were not a threat to the community and were likely to appear for court — then Smith should be afforded the same opportunity.
The presumption against bond is supposed to be based on current charges, Routhier argued, not on criminal history — an argument Meadows made referring to Smith’s past of firearms-related crimes and his co-defendants lack of track record with law enforcement.
Judge William W. Sharp denied Smith’s bond appeal and set three court dates for him to appear.
Smith will have a jury trial on April 3 for the armed robbery charges, a hearing for his failure to appear on April 10 and a bench trial on the indictment for his committing a crime that would be a felony if he was not a minor on May 29.