JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - The lawyer for a man accused of killing a Catholic priest has filed a complaint alleging ethics violations by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood for airing a campaign commercial that, he says, tainted the jury pool.
Jeremy Wayne Manieri is charged with robbing and killing the Rev. Ed Everitt of Hammond, La., in July.
Manieri told police he shot Everitt after he woke up to find the priest fondling him. He has not been indicted by a grand jury.
In the commercial, Hood's campaign showed a photo of Manieri with a voiceover saying the attorney general's GOP opponent in last month's election, Steve Simpson, let a "child molester" out of jail and then the child molester "murdered a 70-year-old priest in cold blood."
Simpson is a former circuit judge and an assistant district attorney, and served as the commissioner of the state's Department of Safety before making a run for Hood's seat.
Hood defeated Simpson by a wide margin in the Nov. 8 election to win his third term in office.
Manieri's lawyer, Brian Alexander, filed a complaint on Nov. 22 with the Mississippi Bar Association over the commercial, according to The Associated Press.
Alexander argues in the complaint that those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty and that what Hood did was "irrefutable."
"This complaint is far larger than Jeremy Manieri or Jim Hood. With the long view in mind, this is about the countless people in Mr. Manieri's position who are clinging to the notion that our system still adheres to vestiges of fairness and due process," the complaint says, according to the AP.
Last month, in a separate interview with the AP, Alexander said Hood violated his oath as a lawyer and an elected official by telling viewers his client is a cold-blooded murderer when he has yet to be indicted on any charge.
"He has all but ensured that my client cannot receive a fair trial in the state of Mississippi. He has not only eroded the presumption of innocence -- attendant to all those who stand accused -- he destroyed it," Manieri's lawyer said at the time.
Hood's campaign has defended the ad, saying it did not publicly name Manieri and "merely stated facts from media reports."
"If the defendant wants a change of venue, then he should file his motion before the court at the proper time instead of trying his case in the media," Hood campaign manager Jonathan Compretta said last month.
"He is manipulating members of the media in an attempt to get more pretrial publicity to bolster his case."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.