Man charged with killing committed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2000

After more than two years of court proceedings, a Natchez man charged with murdering two family members and injuring another has finally been committed to the state mental hospital at Whitfield.

Anthony Smith is charged with an October 1997 shooting in which officials believe he murdered his brother Charles B. Smith, his step-grandfather, Johnnie Williams and injured his grandmother, Iola Williams.

Smith was civilly committed to Whitfield last week by Special Master Jack Lazarus, who handles such matters for Adams County.

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Once Smith arrives at the hospital, he will be held in maximum security and for the safety of society he cannot be easily released.

If Smith is ever released from the hospital, Harper said he will go directly to the Adams County Jail and face his criminal charges.

&uot;The bottom line is it is not our intention for him to be released anytime soon short of an Adams-County jury finding him not guilty of murder,&uot; said District Attorney Ronnie Harper. &uot;I’m convinced that if and when (Smith is released) he will become a danger to himself or others again.&uot;

The hospital must first notify local officials if its staff ever decides to release Smith.

&uot;This is not a normal civil commitment,&uot; Harper said, adding normally such a release stipulation would be &uot;very rare.&uot;

Smith, who had a hearing last week on his case, is still being held at the Adams County Jail but will be sent to Whitfield as soon as a bed is available.

Lazarus said Smith continues to struggle with mental illness.

Smith &uot;clearly constitutes an extreme danger to the public, to himself (and) to others,&uot; he wrote in his commitment order.

And Smith is not expected to recover in the near future, he added.

The civil commitment represents one of the final steps in seeking long-term mental care for Smith.

In June 1999, Circuit Court Judge Forrest &uot;Al&uot; Johnson sought the commitment after agreeing with the state hospital that Smith was incapable of standing trial.