Doctor in murder-for-hire case questions AG’s authority

GREENWOOD — Oncologist Arnold Smith contends Attorney General Jim Hood had no authority to run a police operation that resulted in a shootout at a local law office.

Smith argues in new federal court documents that police investigations are executive branch of government matters. He claims the attorney general is a member of the judicial branch.

Smith said he wants a capital murder charge dismissed because Hood violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

Smith has already asked a federal judge to find that the state is illegally detaining him on the capital murder charge.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports Smith’s attorney, William Bell, filed an amendment Tuesday to the original lawsuit. A judge has not ruled on motions. The attorney general’s office has declined comment.

Smith contends the evidence gained by Hood’s “unlawful” police operation deprives Smith of his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Smith, 70, was arrested April 29, the morning after a shootout at the office of Greenwood attorney Lee Abraham. The gunfire resulted in the death of Keaira Byrd and the critical wounding of a second man, Derrick Lacy.

According to the police, Smith offered to pay Byrd $20,000 to kill Abraham, toward whom the physician had a long-standing animosity. Byrd and Lacy allegedly contacted Abraham and informed him of the plot. Abraham agreed to meet the two at his law office. He also contacted the attorney general’s office and requested investigators be there.

Byrd was killed with a shot to the head by one of the investigators. Abraham was not hurt.

Smith and Lacy have been charged with causing Byrd’s death by conspiring with him in the assassination plot. The indictment says Lacy and Byrd committed burglary in gaining access to Abraham’s office “by the use or subterfuge or trick.”

In Mississippi, capital murder is defined as murder committed along with another crime, called an underlying felony. In this case, it is burglary.

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