Trial of Man Accused of Killing Ex-Father-in-Law Delayed

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A Fort Smith man accused of killing his ex-father-in-law before attempting to kill himself appeared before a Sebastian County Circuit Court judge Wednesday (Aug. 21).

Michael Ray Underwood, 47, who appeared via close circuit television, was not appointed a public defender in his capital murder case after Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue presented the court with documents proving Underwood has the financial means to fund his own defense.

Underwood is accused of gunning down his ex-wife’s father, Michael Shook, before shooting himself in the head in June. Underwood received medical treatment in a Little Rock hospital after his attempted suicide.

During his recovery, a petition for guardianship was filed for Underwood. The documents list more than $550,000 of assets in his estate.

Shue said Judge Cox, who is presiding over Underwood's case, will take another look at the new information. Shue expects Judge Cox will make a decision early next week.

"You've got a 6th amendment right to an attorney, and that includes indigent persons, but obviously, ipso facto, you must be indigent," said Shue

Underwood was transported to Sparks Hospital in Fort Smith before being transferred to the Sebastian County Detention Center Aug. 12, according to police. An arrest warrant was issued for Underwood, accusing him of capital murder, police said.

Shook was declared dead by medical crews responding to his home June 13. The shooting occurred about 6 a.m. at 2000 S. 70th St., according to Fort Smith Police Capt. Jarrard Copeland.

Underwood suffered an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Copeland said.

Investigators said they believe Underwood’s ex-wife, Angela, was living with her father at the time of the shooting. Copeland said there had been an ongoing problem between the Shook’s daughter and Underwood. Angela had submitted an online request for extra patrol at the home on South 70th Street earlier in the month, authorities said.

A protection order was issued three days before the shooting and was to be served on Underwood, according to police.

A Fort Smith officer patrolling the area noticed Underwood’s vehicle at the house and stopped Thursday morning, officials said. There were no active warrants out for the man, but a Sebastian County deputy told the officer there was an outstanding order of protection against Underwood, Copeland said.

When authorities went into the home they found the Shook dead and Underwood wounded, according to Sgt. Daniel Grubbs.

Angela was not at the home at the time of the shooting, according to police.

Police reports show on June 6, Angela spoke with an officer in reference to continued harassment from Underwood. The responding officer took the initial report, listing potential charges of domestic assault and possession of a firearm. After that she went to the Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to seek a warrant and request an order of protection, police said.