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Tulane Docs recommend Dr. Arnold Smith's release from Whitfield

Friday, September 23, 2016, 7:15 pm News Flash Archive

Tulane University psychiatric experts have recommended that Dr. Arnold Smith be released from the State Mental Hospital at Whitfield and treated on an outpatient basis at his home in Jackson.

The Taxpayers Channel had reported last Wednesday that Smith's lawyers expected him to be released from Whitfield, and now more details emerge from the Hinds County Chancery Court. Our previous coverage may be seen here: Court filing suggests Arnold Smith may soon be released from Whitfield.

Dr. Smith was indicted for conspiring to murder Greenwood attorney Lee Abraham back in 2012. During a shoot-out at Abraham's Market Street office, investigators from the Attorney General's office shot and killed Keaira Byrd and wounded Derrick Lacy. Video later emerged which showed Dr. Smith instructing Byrd to shoot Abraham right between the eyes.

But the criminal case against Smith ground to a halt when Circuit Court Judge Breland Hilburn ruled that Smith was incompetent to stand trial, on account of his psychotic delusions of a persecutory nature. Smith was then committed to the State Mental Hospital at Whitfield where he has remained ever since.

Smith's attorney William Bell has been fighting to spring Dr. Smith from Whitfield in the Hinds County Chancery Court, but last February Judge Denise Owens rebuffed his efforts. She ruled that there has been no change in Smith's delusional disorder, and that he remains a violent risk both to himself and to others. She further determined that there was no viable alternative to his remaining in custody so that he may continue to receive his anti-psychotic injections.

Judge Owens' opinion may be seen here: Order Upholding Smith Committment to State Mental Hospital. Her opinion contains significant detail about Smith's mental condition and the opinions of his treating physicians and the various experts who have evaluated him.

But on August 23, Mr. Bell filed a new motion to release Dr. Smith into outpatient treatment at his home in the Jackson area. Bell used as his argument a new report issued by psychiatric experts at Tulane University, which concluded that Smith should be treated at home and no longer held in custody at the State Mental Hospital.

The study has not yet been provided to the public, but Bell's motion, which quotes liberally from it, may be seen here: Motion for Outpatient Treatment.

The Tulane "Risk Forensic Evaluation" was commissioned by the State Mental Hospital itself, and according to Bell, was withheld from Smith and his lawyers for over three weeks.

The report recommends that Smith be released to be treated at home under his wife and family's supervision. It would require that he be denied access to money, weapons, the internet, and printed materials unless they had been cleared by a court-appointed monitor. He would be required to wear an electronic tracking bracelet, and would have to continue to receive his anti-psychotic injections.

The report also recommends that Smith be prohibited from any contact with Lee Abraham, AG Jim Hood and his staff, Dr. Sayed Rafique (a former physician partner from over a decade ago), Cordarious Robinson and Derrick Lacy (accused co-conspirators of Smith's), Hirum Eastland Jr., Ed Brunini, Dick Cowart, John Horty, and Chris Lott. Smith would also be prohibited from traveling to Greenwood.

Smith's attorney then argues that since there is a less restrictive method of treating Dr. Smith's psychiatric disorders than committment to Whitfield, the Court is required to allow the less restrictive treatment regime, and should therefore release Dr. Smith from custody.

A hearing on Smith's motion for release and outpatient treatment has been set for October 10 before Judge Owens in Jackson.

As of publication time, no response in opposition to Smith's motion for release has been filed with the Chancery Court. Smith's attorney implies in his motion that the State agrees with his request to discharge Smith and treat him at home.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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