May 13, 2014 10:06:30 AM
GREENWOOD -- Attorneys for a Greenwood doctor charged in a murder-for-hire case have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging his arrest came during an illegal undercover sting operation.
The Greenwood Commonwealth reports defendants in the lawsuit are attorney and the alleged target Lee Abraham, Attorney General Jim Hood and 10 investigators from his office, Greenwood Detective Jeff Byars, Assistant District Attorney Timothy Jones and Leflore County Justice Court Judge Jim Campbell.
Dr. Arnold Smith, 71, is charged with murder as the alleged instigator of a plot that ended April 28, 2012, with the death of gunman Keaira Byrd and the serious wounding Derrick Lacy. Byrd allegedly was hired to Lee Abraham, who represented Smith's ex-wife in their divorce years ago. Smith is also charged with two counts of conspiring to murder Abraham.
Three investigators from the attorney general's office were at Abraham's office when Byrd and Lacy arrived and exchanged gunfire. Abraham was not injured in the gunfire.
The criminal case against Smith has been on hold indefinitely since Circuit Judge Breland Hilburn ruled in December that Smith was unfit to stand trial. Smith is being held at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. Another hearing will be held to re-examine his competency after treatment is completed.
In the federal lawsuit, Smith's attorney, William Bell of Ridgeland, argues there was no assassination attempt. Instead, Bell argues the death of Byrd resulted from an "illegal undercover sting operation" conducted by Abraham and investigators from the attorney general's office.
Bell argues the investigation by Greenwood police and agents from the attorney general's office into the shooting was both "plainly incompetent" and "indicative of an intentional cover-up."
Hood and the others have not filed responses to the lawsuit.
1. Ex-employee threatens shooting at Zaxby's COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. In his DNA: Shepherd plays key role in cold case arrest COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Volunteers host local arts bazaar in Starkville Sunday STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Oktibbeha County's chancery candidates preparing for nonpartisan race STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. Gavin: Poor schools stunt city's growth COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY