SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield man wanted for a double murder in Vermont is being held on $50,000 bail here after denying an armed robbery last month in Springfield.
Justin Orwat, 46, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Springfield District Court to armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Orwat — handcuffed, shackled and dressed in a baggy white T-shirt and jeans — did not speak during the brief session. Bail was set at $50,000 by agreement of Hampden Assistant District Attorney Cary Szafranski and defense lawyer Richard Rubin.
Springfield police arrested Orwat on Oct. 27 for warrants in four cases involving breaking and entering, shoplifting, larceny and motor vehicle violations.
The arrest came several hours after Orwat had allegedly fatally shot two people in Townshend, Vermont, and burned down their home.
Several days later, Vermont authorities named Orwat as a suspect in the murders and obtained an arrest warrant. By then, he was being held without bail at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, awaiting trial in the unrelated cases.
No decision has been made on extraditing Orwat to Vermont to face charges there.
Following publicity from the Vermont killings, Orwat was identified as a suspect in a fifth local case — an alleged armed robbery at Walmart on Boston Road, according to court records.
On Oct. 4, police were called to the store after a security guard spotted Orwat leaving without paying for several items, including two security cameras, according to the police report. When the guard approached Orwat, he pulled out a knife or boxcutter and swung it at the guard’s face, the report said.
The guard ducked and chased Orwat across the parking lot before losing him near a mobile home park, the report said.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge William Rota continued the case for a pretrial hearing on Dec. 8.
Orwat is already being held without right to bail on the four open cases, including two in Palmer District Court.