Posted May 04, 2011 05:51 pm CDT
An Oklahoma sentencing hearing Monday for a defendant who had just been convicted in a high-profile felony murder case played out like a scene from a Hollywood western, according to eyewitness accounts.
Blindsided by Emanuel Mitchell, who came up from behind and punched him in the face as he was standing, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater fell to the floor of the courtroom but fought back, pushing Mitchell toward a wooden dividing railing. The two fell through a swinging gate as sheriff’s deputies rushed in to subdue Mitchell and jurors and spectators ran for the courtroom exits, reports the Oklahoman.
The DA, who is a former police officer, suffered a cut on his nose and abrasions on his cheek and jaw. Mitchell, 33, went to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder.
“I just saw a fist coming out of the … left corner of my eye. And he nailed me in the side of the face,” Prater tells the newspaper. Then “I pushed him over backwards into the rail.”
As the men grappled, the DA says, “All I knew was I needed to get him on his back. … He just nailed me the one time, the cheap shot.”
Mitchell was convicted in the death of an alleged accomplice in a botched drugstore robbery, who was shot to death by the proprietor. Oklahoma’s felony murder law allows a robber to be convicted of murder if an accomplice dies during the robbery.
KCEN: ” *Man Punches Prosecutor in Court”
KOCO: “Witnesses: Mitchell Attacks District Attorney In Court”