Trials & Litigation

Handcuffed Murder Defendant Will Get New Lawyer After Reportedly Attacking Counsel in Court


It seemed like a routine pretrial hearing in the case of Cornell Smith until the handcuffed murder defendant suddenly, and for no apparent reason, attacked his own counsel in a Boston court on Tuesday, witnesses say.

Attorney Jeff Karp said he doesn’t intend to press charges but withdrew as Smith’s counsel after the Suffolk Superior Court incident, reports the Boston Globe. Smith is charged in the 2008 murder of a Northeastern University senior, Rebecca Payne, who was found shot in her apartment in what authorities say may have been a matter of mistaken identity.

Her parents attended Tuesday’s hearing. “It came out of the blue,” said Nicholas Payne of Smith’s attack on his then-lawyer. “He stood up like lightning and whacked his handcuffed hand on his lawyer’s head.

Karp praised security personnel for quickly bringing the situation under control.

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