Trial of Hinds County District Attorney ends with “NOT GUILTY”

September 12, 2018 in News

By Othor Cain,




Having gone through two trials in Hinds County, with one ending in a mistrial; the other in a not guilty verdict, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith faced a third trial this week in as many years.

Appearing before an all white jury in Rankin County, Smith was originally facing four charges in Rankin County; one of aggravated stalking, one of robbery and two counts of domestic violence. The two domestic violence charges have been put on hold. Both of these are misdemeanors.

Several African Americans were a part of the initial jury pool, however after three were dismissed by the state, in the initial rounds of the selection process, the all white jury was seated before the other jury panels could be seen.

“Jury members are usually picked from the first two panels,” said Yemi King, one of Smith’s defense lawyers. “For whatever reason, the state struck two of the three in the first round, so we knew our chances of getting a jury of Smith’s peers were slim.”

Two days of testimony from state witnesses that attempted to portray Smith as an officer of the law who seemingly thought he was above the law included Christie Edwards, a former girlfriend who’s at the center of this trial.

“I was afraid that nothing would be done because of who he was,” a tearful Edwards said. “He said, I don’t care who the f### you call about this situation.”

Edwards failed to file charges or seek help. After three years of doing nothing, the matter has finally reached the courts.

Edwards testified that she discovered Smith was having an affair with Wanda Fears after going through his phone. Edwards told the jury she befriended Fears’ then husband William on FaceBook. “I did my own investigation and discovered who he was,” Edwards said. “We became friends and after 2-3 days of communicating on FB, we had lunch.”

A short time after meeting, Edwards and Fears became lovers. “Our relationship did become romantic,” Edwards said. The defense team told the jury that Edwards withheld who she was and why she initially reached out to Fears. “Mrs. Edwards befriend Mr. Fears on FaceBook by saying, you’re cute and asking him if he was single?”

Stanley Alexander, an unsuccessful opponent of Smith in 2015, for the office Smith currently occupies (DA of Hinds County) is one of the state’s attorneys for this case.

Patrick Beasley, a former assistant district attorney in Hinds County, who worked for Smith, is also one of the lead attorneys against Smith in this case.

Both Alexander and Beasley offered closing arguments on behalf of the state. Each one hammering to the jury that they should find Smith guilty.

Smith’s team by contrast told the jury that the state did not prove any of the two charges leveled against him. “Mr. Smith is innocent…he isn’t above the law as is evident by him being in court and taking the stand,” the team shared.

After more than four hours of deliberations, the jury found Smith not guilty on the robbery charge and could not reach a concensus on the aggravated stalking charge. Both sides opted not to deliberate any futher.