The Wichita woman who sought an exorcism before being charged with murder in a decapitation has asked for a new lawyer based on an argument about religion.
Rachael Hilyard contended that she and her defense attorney have an “extreme religious conflict” and that he has kept her from getting a psychological evaluation.
In a court hearing Friday, a judge denied her request for a new lawyer.
Hilyard, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the April 9 decapitation of 63-year-old Micki Davis. One of Davis’ sons was Hilyard’s ex-boyfriend. Officers responding to a 911 call found Davis’ severed head in Hilyard’s kitchen sink.
In a neatly organized and handwritten letter Hilyard addressed to a Sedgwick County judge earlier this month, she laid out her concern about her attorney, Jason Smartt.
“The victim in my case was a Jehovas Witness. I think he is one as well,” Hilyard wrote in the June 9 letter. “I am Catholic & this was a crime of God. I am requesting a change of counsel.”
Later in the letter, Hilyard expounded. “On a different case, this would be irrelevant. However, I am Catholic & and the head of a Jehovas Witness was found in my kitchen sink. I think she may have been a high ranking member in this religion.”
But one of Davis’ sons, Jeremy Rush, said Tuesday that Hilyard is wrong about his mother: “At no time whatsoever in her life was she a Jehovah’s Witness.” Davis’ daughter, Jacona Gillespie, agreed, saying that Hilyard is “absolutely wrong.”
At another point in Hilyard’s letter, with occasional typos, she wrote, “Its a known fact about Jehovas Witnesses & brainwashing. The less contact I have with Jason Smartt the better.”
Hilyard also said she has been attending Bible study and getting substance abuse treatment in jail. “If I was really a danger to society I would have trouble doing those things!”
She remains in jail on a bond that has been raised to $500,000.
Hilyard said she needs a psychological evaluation “due to my history” and has been asking Smartt “for two months to order one.”
She wrote that Smartt has told her lies, including that if she went for an evaluation, “I’d be stuck in Ossawatamie or Larned” for 10 to 15 years “waiting for trial! (That was what scared me away from the eval in the 1st place)”
In a postscript, she added: “Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but he keeps talking about this ‘neurological’ assessment coming up. Is he trying to get me hypnotized? I’m scared my lawyer is not on my side at all, he is on the side of the victim.”
At a court hearing Friday, Hilyard argued the points in her letter, but Judge Jeff Goering denied her request for a new lawyer. So Smartt is still her lawyer, Smartt said Tuesday. Smartt is Hilyard’s co-counsel, with fellow assistant public defender Chris Omlid.
Smartt said he couldn’t comment on any religious belief he might have.
Police said Hilyard summoned Davis to Hilyard’s home on West Rita near South Seneca to get her son’s property. Hilyard began attacking Davis in the garage before Davis’ 9-year-old grandson fled, police said
Hilyard’s case drew extra attention after she said in a jailhouse interview with The Eagle that she had sought an exorcism for “evil spirits” in her house just a few days before the killing.