- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - A judge on Wednesday ruled a Greenwood doctor unfit to stand trial for his alleged role in a murder-for-hire scheme to kill a local attorney.

The Greenwood Commonwealth (https://bit.ly/1scNyMt) reports Judge Breland Hilburn, specially appointed to hear the case, ordered proceedings to have Dr. Arnold Smith committed to a mental institution.

The ruling likely ends the criminal prosecution of Smith, a 72-year-old oncologist who had been charged with capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged role in a scheme to kill attorney Lee Abraham.

Smith is charged as the alleged instigator of a plot that ended April 28, 2012, with the death of gunman Keaira Byrd and the serious wounding of Derrick Lacy. Byrd allegedly was hired to kill 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.

Hilburn initially ruled Smith unfit to stand trial last December but ordered Smith returned to the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield for additional psychiatric evaluation.

After considering several follow-up reports from mental health experts at Whitfield as well as from Dr. Gilbert S. Macvaugh III, a Greenville-based psychologist hired by Smith’s defense, Hilburn ordered Smith’s case transferred to chancery court, where a judge will begin proceedings to have Smith committed.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Dr. Reb McMichael, director of forensic services at the state hospital, testified that Smith suffers from a delusional disorder and would be incapable of assisting in his own defense.

McMichael also expressed doubt that Smith’s condition would improve. He said Smith would require “constant and continuous” monitoring and might be a danger to others if left unsupervised in the community.

No judge has yet been assigned to hear the civil commitment proceedings, which will be held in Leflore County Chancery Court.

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Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, https://www.gwcommonwealth.com

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