Niskayuna man arraigned on charges in 1994 Virginia murder

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A Niskayuna man remains in jail, after admitting he killed a woman in Virginia in 1994, and evaded police for decades.

Stephan Smerk is being held without bail, having waived extradition.

Smerk was arraigned around 10 a.m. Tuesday in Schenectady County Court.

He was arrested last Thursday and charged with being a fugitive from justice from Fairfax County, Virginia, where Robin Lawrence was stabbed to death in her home in 1994. Lawrence’s 2-year-old daughter was inside at the time.

Smerk was visited by Fairfax County Police detectives last week outside his Niskayuna home, after police linked DNA evidence to Smerk. When they asked Smerk for DNA swabs, he agreed without any hesitation, they said. Shortly after police left, he called them to confess.

Smerk was in the Army on active duty and stationed in the Virginia area. There is no connection between him and Lawrence.

Everything went smoothly in court, according to Smerk’s lawyer, Stephen Signore, with the public defender’s office.

“My understanding is that he was very polite, and just wanted to get this over with and sign the waiver of extradition,” Signore said.

The next step is for Smerk to be picked up by Fairfax County within the next 90 days – which Signore says will most likely be sooner rather than later.

NewsChannel 13’s Tessa Bentulan went to Smerk’s home to speak with his family. When she knocked on the door, a man came outside and told us no comment.