Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith FOUND NOT GUILTY

August 10, 2017 in News, Top Stories, Uncategorized

By Othor Cain,

Editor,

Wanda Smith grabs hand of husband  Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith after he was acquitted on two counts of conspiracy and one count of aiding or counseling a defendant. PHOTO BY KEVIN BRADLEY

Wanda Smith grabs hand of husband Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith after he was acquitted on two counts of conspiracy and one count of aiding or counseling a defendant. PHOTO BY KEVIN BRADLEY

It took the jury nearly four hours to render a unanimous decision in the second trial of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, that lasted for seven days.

Smith, who was tried for the same crimes in 2016, relied on his faith in God, to get him through this ordeal. “We had so many people praying for us, my faith never wavered,” Smith said in his office on Valley Street in Jackson Wednesday afternoon. “I’m here to tell you that God is real and when the rubber meets the road, that’s when you have to rely on faith.”

Smith was acquitted of two counts of conspiracy to hinder the Attorney General’s prosecution of drug defendant Christopher Butler and one count for aiding or counseling a defendant. He could have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine had he been found guilty.

The jurors returned to the court room around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday  and handed Special Judge Larry Roberts a hand written note of their findings. Smith sat and waited with much anticipation as Roberts read the verdict.

“Yesterday was a blessing, it was a culmination of a lot of hard work and belief in that when you do the right thing, right will follow you,” Smith said. “As the verdict was being read, all I could think about was my mother and father and the rest of my family; this has been a stressful situation that has affected my entire family.”

After an hour and a half of deliberating, the jury made up of five black females, five black males and two white females sent Roberts a note saying, “they were split 10-2,” in their verdict. Roberts sent word back to them to continue deliberating until a unanimous decision was reached.

Smith began serving as the district attorney for Hinds County in 2008 and is now in his third elected term. “I am appalled that another elected official would accuse me of trying to hinder a prosecution or do something outside of the scope of my job,” he said very firmly. “I always speak with lawyers before visiting an inmate, this isn’t anything new…I’m a prosecutor.”

Smith hired Atlanta based attorney Michael T. Sterling to help with his defense. “Through a connection with a local attorney, I was introduced to Michael,” Smith said. “I wanted someone sharp, like-minded, who could really articulate the facts of this case in simple language so that everybody could understand…Michael did that.”

In his opening statement, Sterling told the jury this case was about his client’s pursuit of justice and the corruption that exists in the Attorney General’s office. “Had my client been able to see all of the video, we would not have had this trial,” Sterling said. “This was a prosecutor trying to do his job, trying to protect a person’s civil rights…sometimes prosecutors don’t always get it right.”

Sterling, who is running for mayor of the city of Atlanta and is a former prosecutor, hasn’t tried a case in six years. “I’ve been focused on my work in government, so it meant a great deal for Robert to trust me with this case,” he said. “It is an enormous responsibility when someone essentially puts their life in your hands.”

Today, Smith is focused on doing the job he was elected to do. “I’m glad this is behind me, behind my family and frankly, behind the citizens of Hinds County,” Smith said. “I, like everyone else, want to see criminals off the streets, I want to see crime decrease, it affects me just as much as it does anyone else.”

With a heart of gratitude, Smith thanked the jury for what they endured during this process. “I am grateful for their service and for delivering a fair and just verdict,” he said. “Yesterday was a blessing from the Most High.”