Man accused of shooting Mississippi judge with high-powered rifle fires attorney at preliminary hearing

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, July 21, 2021

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — A man charged in the March 2020 shooting of a Mississippi judge stood up during a preliminary hearing for the case and fired his attorney.

Cameras weren’t allowed inside the Lauderdale County courtroom on Tuesday, but a WTOK-TV reporter who was present said Ernest Edwards told the court that he thought another judge was hearing the case. He said he wasn’t ready to proceed.

Edwards was arrested in March on an attempted capital murder charge in connection with the shooting Chancery Court Judge Charles Smith outside the courthouse.

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The judge was shot with a high-powered rifle in an ambush-style attack while he was standing next to his truck, authorities said. He was in critical condition afterward but returned to the bench after two months of convalescence.

Smith’s district includes Lauderdale and Clarke counties. Among subjects that chancery judges in Mississippi handle are divorces, child custody cases, adoptions and guardianships.

District attorney Kassie Coleman told WTOK that proceedings in the case will be delayed until Edwards retains new counsel.