Man Sentenced to 25-30 Years in Prison for Killing of Great Uncle

Monday, January 28, 2019
GoLocalWorcester News Team

Joseph Early Jr.
Jonathan Hart of Barre was sentenced to 25 to 30 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to manslaughter earlier this week in the 2011 killing of his great uncle, according to Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

The Investigation

Hart and his friend Jason Lopez, 27, of Ware, were charged with stabbing Joseph Cernauskas, 84, while he slept in his Hardwick home in the early morning of September 6, 2011.

After removing the body the defendants set the home on fire, according to Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hodgens.

The investigation began when Hardwick firefighters did not find Cernauskas at home. His body was found two weeks later in a field in Barre. Two vehicles were stolen and the defendants were eventually apprehended in Florida.

During the investigation, Hart told detectives that Cernauskas had molested him for several years when he was a young boy.

Hart pleaded guilty to manslaughter, home invasion, armed burglary, arson of a dwelling, larceny from a building and two counts of larceny of a motor vehicle. Judge Daniel Wrenn sentenced Hart to 25 to 30 years in prison and 10 years of probation that will start after the sentence is served.

Lopez is awaiting trial in Worcester Superior Court on the same charges.

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