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Man accused of killing Knox County firefighter needs new attorney


Sydney Smith - KCDC

A man accused of killing a Knox County firefighter needs a new attorney after his old one stepped down.

Sydney Smith's defense attorney stepped down from the case Friday morning January 4th.

He was supposed to have a hearing, but it was pushed back until June 7.

On April 20, 2018, inmates with the Bell County Forestry Service and guards found Michael Sowders' body while cleaning a dumpsite. After investigating, Kentucky State Police said Sowders was shot.

Sowders was a volunteer firefighter at Artemus Fire Department and used to work for Whitley EMS. He left behind a wife and two daughters.

Sydney Smith of Girdler was indicted for counts of murder, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree wanton endangerment and abuse of a corpse.

According to the indictment, Smith shot Sowders April 14, 2018. He then hid the body in the garbage dumpsite.

Officials also say on April 20, 2018 Smith pointed a gun at troopers and a detective. Also on that day, according to the indictment, he abused Sowders' corpse by "intentionally treating the body in a way that would outrage ordinary family sensibilities."

Smith is lodged in the Knox County Detention Center.

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