Hartman execution scheduled

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 8, 2003

RALEIGH – A shade over 10 years after being charged in the death of an Ashley’s Grove community resident, Edward Ernest Hartman will pay for that crime with his own life.

Late last week, North Carolina Department of Correction Secretary Theodis Beck scheduled Oct. 3 as the execution date for Hartman. Death by lethal injection will be carried out at precisely 2 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Hartman, now 38, was sentenced to death on Oct. 24, 1994 in Northampton County Superior Court for the June 1993 murder of Larry Herman Smith Jr., who resided on Burnt Bridges Road in the eastern part of the county. In addition to the death penalty, Hartman was also sentenced to 40 years for armed robbery.

According to the testimony given at the 1994 trial, including statements by the assailant, Smith, 77, was sitting in a recliner in his home at approximately 11 p.m. on June 3, 1993 when Hartman slipped behind him and fired a fatal shot to the back of Smith’s head. The murder weapon was a .38 caliber pistol registered to Smith.

Leaving Smith’s body in the chair, Hartman was then said to steal money and checks from the home. He attempted to cash one of those checks on June 8 at Centura Bank in Murfreesboro.

At some point – Hartman confessed it was five days following the murder – he returned to Smith’s residence and removed the body, burying it in a six-foot grave inside a horse stable located behind the home.

Smith was reported missing on June 7 by family members. They became worried after Smith failed to show at a family gathering on June 6.

A two-week manhunt, ordered by then Northampton County Sheriff John Wood, ensued. Three weeks after the murder (June 24, 1993), Hartman was arrested in Norfolk, Va. Upon his return to Northampton County, he led law enforcement officials to Smith’s grave.

Following a one-week trial, one from where Hartman was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery, he was sentenced to death by a Northampton County jury.