Sanity evaluation pending, ‘shopping cart killer’ suspect seeks trial delay

The lawyer for “shopping cart killer” suspect Anthony Eugene Robinson has asked a judge to delay an August trial because he has yet to receive a mental health evaluation to determine whether Robinson was insane when he allegedly killed two women in the Harrisonburg, Virginia, area in 2021.

As first reported by WTOP, defense attorney Louis Nagy is weighing an insanity defense and could argue his client was not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of 54-year-old Beth Redmon of Harrisonburg, and 39-year-old Tonita Smith of Charlottesville.

In September 2022, Robinson was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Redmon and Smith, and two counts for hiding their bodies. He was later indicted on a charge of aggravated murder of more than one person within three years — a Class One felony, the most serious under Virginia law,

Robinson is also suspected, but not charged in the deaths of two women — Cheyenne Brown and Stephanie Harrison — in Fairfax County, and another woman — Sonya Champ — in Washington, D.C.

In a new motion obtained by WTOP, Nagy asked the judge to postpone his client’s Aug. 28 trial related to Redmon’s death. Robinson is scheduled to be tried separately for Smith’s death, starting Sept. 25. Each trial is expected to last one week.

Nagy argues he is running out of time to receive and consider the findings of the sanity evaluation in light of a Virginia requirement that he must notify prosecutors two months before trial if he plans to argue Robinson was not guilty by reason of insanity — Virginia’s version of an insanity defense.

“While the doctor appointed to do the evaluation has met with the accused, counsel is aware that the doctor still wishes to see the recorded interview of the defendant conducted by police,” and still needs to issue a written report, he said.

Nagy said he would need to file notice of an insanity defense no later than June 29, which is prior to the due date set for the evaluation.

Shopping cart in the woods. (Courtesy Fairfax County)

Based upon the findings of the sanity evaluation, Nagy said his client may have certain rights to “have their own evaluation done by another doctor and there will not be sufficient time to accomplish such evaluation.”

Nagy’s motion only refers to Robinson’s August trial — he proposes leaving the September trial on the calendar.

Robinson is accused of meeting the women at hotels, killing them then transporting their bodies in a shopping cart before dumping their remains in vacant lots.

On Sept. 12, 2022, during a preliminary hearing in Harrisonburg District Court, a judge watched video evidence showing Redmon and Smith walking into Room 336 of the Howard Johnson motel in Harrisonburg with Robinson, then Robinson 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.

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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.

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