Criminal Justice

Handcuffed Defendant Takes Plea, Decks Defense Counsel with a Single Punch, Gets 6 Months More Time

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A handcuffed defendant suddenly took a swing at defense counsel in court after pleading guilty on Tuesday in a South Carolina criminal case, knocking the surprised attorney backward to the floor as a security camera caught the entire incident.

Already sentenced to the 15-year maximum Tuesday as a result of his guilty plea to assault, robbery and drug charges related to an attack on a female university student, Lamarcus Williamson, 30, got another six months added to his prison term after the judge held him in criminal contempt for the courtroom attack and sentenced him to the maximum term for that offense, too, the Daily Mail reports.

Williamson’s lawyer, assistant York County public defender Dan Hall, a former York city judge, celebrated his 58th birthday on Tuesday. He said his client’s “roundhouse” punch, as Circuit Judge Michael Nettles described it, was not a great birthday present but could have been a lot worse, the Rock Hill Herald reports.

“An inch higher, I would have had a broken nose,” said Hall. “An inch lower, my front teeth would have been knocked out.”

A video shows Williamson, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, swinging around to sock defense counsel after Hall placed a hand on his client’s upper arm, apparently just after Nettles pronounced sentence at around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Hall tumbles backward but swiftly gets to his feet again as courtroom security officers hustle Williamson out of the room.

Hall said he didn’t ordinarily represent Williamson, but was at the hearing as a favor to colleague Mark McKinnon, who was on the other side of Williamson when he struck Hall, the Rock Hill Herald reported. Hall said he had never before seen such a courtroom attack in 25 years of practice.

The New York Daily News and WSOC also have stories.

See video from the courtroom:

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