ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – The man who defended himself during an eight-day trial that ended with a 33-year jail sentence still says “I did not do it.”
A jury convicted Eric Saub, 32, of second-degree murder on May 9 after 10 hours of deliberations over two days.
“I think it shows that they had a very hard time unanimously deciding there was proof, and I think that shows reasonable doubt right there,” said Saub.
He says he plans to appeal.
Prosecutors presented no direct evidence – no murder weapon or bullet casings – but cell phone records put Saub and Smith in the woods together the day she died. Investigators also found various tools, including a shovel and rake, not far from the body site.
Jean Marie Smith was found in the woods, off Old Courthouse Highway, with a bullet to the head and covered in pine straws in April 2015.
Saub admits he brought the tools into the woods about a month earlier to bury silver. Investigators say they never found any during an intense search.
Saub says his trial was “unfair” because the judge did not allow him to show the jury a video of the crime scene. He tells WAVY.com he wanted to show how far the tools were from Smith’s body.
About an hour after the murder, prosecutors say Saub calmly called his bank to transfer funds between two accounts.
“They were trying to make me look like a monster for being so calm and killing someone,” said Saub. “To me, the most reasonable and easy hypothesis is that I didn’t just kill Jean Marie.”
The Commonwealth harped on Saub’s rap sheet at trail for stealing identities, including a dozen convictions in Oregon, and described how Saub stole personal information from Smith’s family. Investigators say he opened up bank accounts and ran up credit cards without their consent.
Prosecutors say Smith was dependent on Saub for money and a place to live and their close communication via text message essentially cut off after the murder.
“That to me is the most ridiculous motive in the world,” said Saub. “You don’t go from bending over backwards to helping somebody to no, I am not going to do anything for you and just killing them. That is ridiculous. I have committed lots of crimes in my life to my regret, but I have never disrespected human life and I would never take human life.”
Saub says the evidence against him is weak. He’s now hoping he can prove his innocence on appeal.
“I would do anything to make sure she was still alive and I will do anything I can to bring her justice, but her blood is not on my hands.”
Saub will be formally sentenced July 10.