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Lawyer files civil suit against doctor


The Associated Press



GREENWOOD -- A judge wants to hold a trial in August on a Greenwood attorney's civil lawsuit against a doctor involved in an alleged murder-for-hire plot. 


Lee Abraham sued Dr. Ralph Arnold Smith Jr. in July of 2012. In the lawsuit, Abraham argued he has altered his daily routine and lost enjoyment of his normal life as a result of a plot to kill him. 


The Greenwood Commonwealth reports Circuit Judge Breland Hilburn told parties this week he wants pretrial preparations in the lawsuit completed by August. 


Smith is charged with two counts of conspiring to kill Abraham and one count of capital murder in the death of Keaira Byrd. Smith allegedly hired Byrd to carry out a hit on Abraham. Byrd was killed by authorities during the shootout. Authorities had been alerted by Abraham. Abraham was not hurt. 


Smith, 72, is being held at the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield after having been declared mentally unfit to stand trial in December. 


Smith countersued Abraham in August of 2012. Smith argued Abraham secretly schemed with others to cause him "severe mental and emotional distress." The countersuit didn't provide specific details about what Smith argues Abraham did. 


At a hearing Tuesday in Greenwood, Hilburn said the two lawsuits will be tried separately with Abraham's first. 


"The court would then schedule the trial of the counterclaim, if in fact the counterclaim survives the pretrial motions and other defenses that may be raised," Hilburn said. 


Attorneys for both sides in the case said they'd reached an agreement to turn over documents -- including banking and other financial records belonging to Smith -- under the condition that the records would be kept sealed. They also said they'd agreed on a request for documents related to the criminal case from the district attorney's office.




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