Wise, VA – Joshua Blake Smith, age 34, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, pled guilty today in the Wise County Circuit Court before the Honorable Judge Ronald Elkins to one count of first degree murder, one count of abduction, and one count of strangulation. Smith was indicted in November 2020 after he violently attacked and killed his 72-year old grandmother and attempted to dispose of her body.
Smith was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge, 10 years with 10 years suspended for the abduction charge, and 5 years with 5 years suspended for the strangulation charge. Therefore, Smith will serve an active life sentence in prison and waived any right he has to an appeal of this sentence in today's court.
On August 27, 2020, Joshua Smith forced his grandmother into her bedroom against her will while she was resisting. He stabbed her multiple times in the neck with a knife. Smith also suffocated and strangled her, and he told police it took her several hours to die. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, there was a blue tarp and shovel found in front of the residence. The investigation revealed that he attempted to recruit others to help him dispose of his grandmother's body.
Commonwealth's Attorney, Brett Hall, would like to thank Sergeant William Hollinger and the Big Stone Gap Police Department along with Sergeant Charles Curry and the Wise County Sheriff's Office for their collaborative efforts in the investigation and successful prosecution of this case. Hall would also like to thank Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Sara Ohanessian for her extensive work on this heinous case.
The lead prosecutor on this case was Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ken Lammers, along with fellow prosecutor Corey Salyers. Lammers says, "Today we convicted Joshua Smith of killing his grandmother. The violence and abuse in this case was highly disturbing, and this man needed to be held responsible for his actions as well as removed from the community so he could do no further harm. He will spend the rest of his life in a penitentiary. He deserves no less."
Smith is currently being held at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield, Virginia, as he awaits placement and transfer to the Virginia Department of Corrections.