ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Eric Saub described himself as a “con artist” in an interview with investigators, but he blames the prosecution for using his criminal record to demonize him for a murder he says he didn’t commit.
Saub rested his case on Thursday without testifying after getting frustrated with the judge for not allowing him to submit evidence that was deemed “irrelevant.” However, with the trial moving toward deliberations, the judge gave Saub another chance to testify.
Saub then took the stand Friday for three hours and told the jury that Jean Marie Smith was like a sister, and pointed to text messages to show they trusted each other.
Saub fled Oregon due to several fraud charges to live with Smith in 2014, according to testimony, and moved into a house owned by Smith’s grandmother.
Saub, while owning up to his past convictions, told the jury he’s cashed more fraudulent checks than he can count and joked that he should have written a book called “A Con Man’s Guide to Identity Theft Protection.”
Still, he says there’s no evidence to support that he’s a murderer and he had no reason to kill Smith.
Investigators say Saub and Smith had traveled to Florida together twice in April 2015, coming back to Hampton Roads just before Smith was shot and killed.
Saub originally told detectives Smith stole silver during their trip, and the two buried it in the woods in Isle of Wight. Investigators went back to the area, but didn’t find any silver.
However, they did find a shovel and rake near the area where Smith’s body was found.
An investigator testified earlier in the trial that a K-9 found possible gunpowder on a tree near Smith’s body. Saub is believed to have shot Smith by a tree before dragging her to the location where she was found.
No blood was found in the area where she was allegedly dragged.
While the prosecution doesn’t have a direct link between Saub & the murder — no weapon, no bullets — they did present circumstantial evidence including Saub’s DNA on Smith’s clothing and cell phone records that put Saub within miles of the woods.
Tire marks in the mud near the body match up to Saub’s SUV, according to another expert testimony. However, the tire marks are consistent with tires on numerous different vehicles, the expert said.
Saub defends he was at home in Hampton when the murder occurred and his DNA could have been transferred to Smith’s clothes during a trip the two took to Florida.
In fact, investigators say they returned home from Florida just hours before the murder.
In cross exam inaction, Saub pressed investigators about why they didn’t look heavily enough into numerous other suspects.
Prosecutors insinuated that Saub knew Smith was dead because the two exchanged dozens of text messages a day — more than 1,000 in the month before the murder — yet he stopped texting her the day she was killed.
Saub repeatedly told the jury that Smith always saw beyond his failures.
He called Smith “caring” and said, “I know I will never know nobody like her.”
Court went into recess in the middle of Saub’s testimony, which will be continued on Monday morning.
10 On Your Side’s Joe Fisher will be in the courtroom.