Judge grants psychiatric evaluation for ‘shopping cart killer’ suspect

A judge has granted a defense motion to appoint a psychiatrist to evaluate whether “shopping cart killer” suspect Anthony Eugene Robinson was insane when he allegedly killed two women in the Harrisonburg, Virginia, area last year.

Rockingham County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Albertson on Friday said he would issue an order appointing a forensic psychiatrist to evaluate Robinson, who is being held without bond.

Earlier this week, and on Friday in court, defense attorney Louis Nagy made clear he is considering an insanity defense for Robinson in the deaths of Beth Redmon, 54, of Harrisonburg, and Tonita Smith, 39, of Charlottesville.

In a motion filed Monday, Nagy wrote that the nature of the allegations against his client “are so egregious” that “there is reason to believe that the Defendant’s behavior was not rational at the time of the offense.”

On Friday, Nagy told the judge medical records and conversations with Robinson’s family, indicate his client has a long history of mental illness, which leads him to believe Robinson may have been suffering from the effects of that mental illness during one or more of the crimes.

Nagy did not elaborate in court on the medical records.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Bean did not oppose Nagy’s request to have the judge appoint a mental health provider to evaluate Robinson. The judge said he planned to see whether forensic psychiatrist Eugene Simopoulos were available to conduct the evaluation.

Typically, evaluations to determine whether a defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity — Virginia’s version of an insanity defense — are conducted in jail. Nagy is not challenging whether his client is competent to stand trial.

Trials set for next year

In September, Robinson was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Redmon and Smith, and two counts of hiding their bodies. He was also indicted on a charge of aggravated murder of more than one person within three years — a Class 1 felony, the most serious under Virginia law, which could carry a sentence of life with no chance of parole.

Albertson set the trial related to Redmon’s death for Aug. 28, 2023. The trial for Smith’s death and the aggravated murder count will begin Sept. 25 of next year. Each trial is expected to last a week.

On Sept. 12, during a preliminary hearing in District Court, a judge watched video evidence showing Redmon and Smith each walking into Room 336 of the Howard Johnson motel in Harrisonburg with Robinson, then Robinson in each case later leaving the room before dawn and retrieving a shopping cart. Soon after, video also showed him dragging the cart out of the room, with body-sized items wrapped in sheets.

Robinson is also suspected, but has not yet been charged, in the deaths of two women in Fairfax County, Virginia — Cheyenne Brown, of D.C., and Stephanie Harrison, of Redding, California. Their remains were both found in a large plastic container near a shopping cart near the Moon Inn motel, on U.S. Route 1 in the Huntington area of Alexandria.

Robinson is also suspected in the death of Sonya Champ, 40, of D.C., whose body was found in a shopping cart in Northeast D.C. in September 2021.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up