January 25, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim Connolly 508-688-5568
WORCESTER — A Barre man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this week in the 2011 killing of his great uncle was sentenced today in Worcester Superior Court to 25 to 30 years in prison, according to Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
Jonathan Hart, 28, 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 Sept. 6. 2011. After removing the body the defendants set the home on fire, according to Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Hodgens.
The investigation began when Hardwick firefighters did not find Mr. 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, Mr. Hart told detectives that Mr. Cernauskas had molested him for several years when he was a young boy.
Mr. 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 M. Wrenn sentenced Mr. Hart to 25 to 30 years in prison and 10 years of probation that will start after the sentence is served.
Mr. Hodgens, in his address to the court before sentencing, credited the State Police Detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office, local police in Hardwick, Ware and Tarpon Springs, Florida, and other police units. He said the case could have gone unsolved, but for their hard work.
Mr. Lopez is awaiting trial in Worcester Superior Court on the same charges.