CRIME

Virginia Eastern Shore arson suspects competent to stand trial

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ACCOMAC, Va. (AP) - Two people suspected of setting a string of fires on Virginia's Eastern Shore have been found competent to stand trial.

The conclusion followed a court-ordered psychological evaluation of Charles R. Smith II and Tonya Bundick.

Police have said the couple is responsible for most of the 77 arsons on the Eastern Shore since last fall. They were arrested April 2.

The Daily Times reported Friday that the psychological evaluations of Smith and Bundick found that both defendants suffer from depression.

The evaluations reveal that Bundick was subjected to verbal and emotional abuse at home as a child and was physically abused by her father.

The evaluation of Smith notes that he was abandoned by his biological father.

The couple, who are engaged, had sought to keep sealed the reports, but General District Judge Gordon Vincent denied the motion on Wednesday.

Each has been charged with one count of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson in connection with a fire at an abandoned structure in Melfa. More charges are expected.

In court documents, Smith told investigators he torched 52 unoccupied buildings and Bundick set fire to 15.

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