Trials & Litigation

Courtroom suicide should be a wake-up call that security is needed at rural courthouse, says sheriff

Following the apparent courtroom suicide on June 29 of a man who had just been convicted of a crime for which he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 7 years, it looks like a courthouse in rural Missouri is going to amp up security measures.

Officials met on Friday to talk about what changes might be made at the Nodaway County Courthouse, which, unlike its big-city counterparts, has been about as open to the public as a public building can be, according to the Maryville Daily Forum.

Circuit Judge Roger Prokes scheduled the meeting in response to an email from Sheriff Darren White, who pointed out that 48-year-old Steven Parsons might have smuggled a gun into the courtroom instead of a cyanide pill.

Multiple entrances at the courthouse and the nearby administration center may have to be reduced. Big-city basics–such as security cameras, a staffed metal detector, searches of bags and briefcases and a ban on cellphones–would all be desirable, but potentially costly, the sheriff says. A ban on nonessential medications is also recommended.

“If you look at where these incidents occur, it’s not in places like New York and Chicago,” said White. “They’re happening in places like Nodaway County. We’ve got to wake up.”

See also: “Convicted in case with 7-year max, man took cyanide in courtroom and died”

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