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Court refuses again to remove judge from murder-for-hire case

GREENWOOD — The Mississippi Supreme Court has again denied a motion from a Greenwood doctor charged in a murder-for-hire case to remove the judge appointed to preside over his case.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that the Supreme Court issued the order earlier this month.

The attorney for Dr. Arnold Smith, William Bell, argued in his motion that Judge Breland Hilburn improperly discussed the case with the psychologists examining Dr. Ralph Arnold Smith Jr.

Hilburn was appointed to hear the criminal and civil cases against Smith after all the Leflore County circuit court judges recused themselves.

Smith has been undergoing a court-ordered mental evaluation at the Mississippi State Hospital since June.

Smith’s criminal and civil cases have been indefinitely postponed. A status hearing was scheduled for Tuesday. Two doctors who have examined Smith were scheduled to be present.

Smith is charged with murder as the alleged instigator of a plot that ended with the death of gunman Keaira Byrd and the serious wounding Derrick Lacy. Byrd allegedly was hired to kill attorney Lee Abraham, who represented Smith’s ex-wife in their divorce years ago. Abraham was not injured.

Smith is also charged with two counts of conspiring to murder Abraham.

He has been held without bail since his arrest in 2012.

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