Charges upgraded against Wise County man accused of killing grandmother

Photo Courtesy: WJHL TV
Photo Courtesy: WJHL TV(WJHL)
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 2:33 AM EST
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WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – A Big Stone Gap man accused of killing his grandmother in August 2020 is now charged with capital murder.

CBS affiliate WJHL reports according to court documents provided by Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp, a Wise County Grand Jury returned an indictment upgrading Joshua Blake Smith’s first-degree murder charge to capital murder.

Smith, 32, was originally indicted on November 18th, 2020 and faced ten charges, including first-degree murder, abduction, strangulation and assault and battery of a law enforcement officer.

Smith’s charges stem from an investigation in Big Stone Gap that began with a welfare check at Charlene Osborne’s home in August 2020.

Slemp told WJHL capital murder is currently the only crime in the Commonwealth that carries the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. However, the Virginia General Assembly has recently passed legislation to abolish capital punishment in the state effective July 1st, and Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign it.

Slemp said due to this development, his office would not be seeking the death penalty against Smith.