June 17, 2022

Man convicted of shooting Chancery Judge at Lauderdale Co. Courthouse in 2020

Therese Apel

Ernest Edwards

A jury in Oxford convicted a man accused of shooting a Lauderdale County judge in 2020 on Friday after a week-long trial.

Chancery Court Judge Charles Smith was shot in the back as he got out of his vehicle at the courthouse in March of 2020. A year later, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation leveled charges of attempted capital murder against Ernest Edwards.

Edwards was sentenced to life in prison without parole, according to Sheriff Billy Sollie.

Edwards’ case was tried in front of a Lafayette County jury, as a change of venue was granted in the high-profile case. Another factor in the decision was that the Lauderdale County Courthouse, where the trial would have been held, was in fact, the crime scene.

Smith now serves in the 12th Chancery Court District after returning to the bench. He took some time off for surgeries and recovery.

Smith’s career spans almost 40 years as a judge and prosecutor.

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