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Smith v. Banks

Supreme Court of Mississippi

January 30, 2014

RALPH ARNOLD SMITH, JR.
v.
RICKY BANKS, SHERIFF OF LEFLORE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, AND THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

As Amended April 10, 2014.

Page 716

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEFLORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/09/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. L. BRELAND HILBURN.

FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM CHARLES BELL.

FOR APPELLEES: OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FOURTH DISTRICT, BY: TIMOTHY HUTSON JONES.

BEFORE WALLER, C.J., LAMAR AND KITCHENS, JJ. DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE AND KING, JJ., CONCUR. COLEMAN, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.

OPINION

Page 717

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE

¶1. Ralph Arnold Smith Jr. appeals from the Leflore County Circuit Court's denial of his habeas corpus petition. After reviewing Smith's petition and the evidence proffered to the trial court, we find that Smith is not entitled to habeas corpus relief. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶2. Smith was arrested on April 29, 2012, and charged with one count of capital murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. The State charged Smith with capital felony murder for causing the death of Keaira Byrd. The State alleged that Smith had conspired with Byrd to murder Lee Abraham, a Greenwood attorney. According to the State, the underlying felony raising Byrd's death to capital murder was Byrd's own " burglary by subterfuge" of Abraham's office. Byrd and Derrick Lacy were attempting to enter Abraham's office under false pretenses to murder him when Byrd was killed by an investigator with the Attorney General's office. The State also charged Smith with one count of conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged involvement in the murder-for-hire plot with Byrd and Lacy, along with a second count of conspiracy to commit murder for entering into an agreement with Cordarious Robinson to find someone to kill Abraham.

¶3. The record reflects that, during his initial appearance in justice court, Smith was granted $100,000 bail on his conspiracy charge with Cordarious Robinson, but was denied bail on the other conspiracy charge and the capital-murder charge. Smith then had a preliminary hearing before the Leflore County Court on May 16, 2012. At the hearing, the county court found that there was probable cause to bind Smith over to await the action of the Grand Jury of Leflore County on all three charges. The court refused to grant bail on Smith's capital-murder charge, finding that the proof was evident and the presumption great that Smith had committed a capital crime. The court also denied bail for Smith's charge of conspiracy with Byrd and Lacy, finding that Smith's release would constitute a special danger to Abraham and his family. The county court denied the State's request to revoke the bail granted on Smith's conspiracy charge with Robinson. The county court issued an oder to this effect on May 21, 2013. Smith then filed a petition for bail with this Court, arguing that the county court had erred in denying bail. A panel of this Court denied Smith's petition for bail. See Smith v. State , No. 2012-M-01054 (Miss. July 18, 2012).

¶4. On September 12, 2012, Smith filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Leflore County Circuit Court, claiming that his detention without bail on his capital-murder charge was illegal. For the purposes of this appeal, Smith claimed that he could not be held without bail for capital murder because the State's allegations against him did not state a valid charge for capital murder. Smith argued that Byrd's death was not committed " without authority of law" by someone engaged in the underlying felony of burglary, as alleged by the State, because Byrd was killed by a law-enforcement officer acting in self-defense. The trial ...


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