Defendant Attacks Own Attorney In Washington County Courtroom

Thursday, January 31st 2013, 6:14 pm
By: News On 6

A fight that cleared a Washington County courtroom Wednesday was caught on camera.

We spoke with the deputy who broke up the brawl.

The defendant, Shawn Kennedy, was on trial, accused of attacking a pastor last year. That victim had just left the stand when Kennedy took his aggression out on his own attorney.

"I don't even remember how it happened, it was just a blur," said Deputy John Zeilinger.

Zeilinger was sitting behind Shawn Kennedy in the courtroom Wednesday. Video from the courtroom camera shows you just how close he was.

"I saw him starting to fidget and starting to talk to himself," Zeilinger said. "I said, ‘Shawn, you need to calm down, you better calm down.'"

His attempt to calm Kennedy didn't work.

Just as Zeilinger reached his hand toward Kennedy, the defendant lunged toward his attorney and his fists were flying.

"He did make contact with the attorney, in the face, with one punch, I believe. I think he tried to kick, but the kick didn't go anywhere, it just kind of went in the air," Zeilinger said.

Zeilinger wrestled Kennedy to the ground in a matter of seconds. At the same time, the judge dismissed the frantic jury and ordered a mistrial.

"A good reason we have the security in a courtroom like we do," said Washington County Sheriff Rick Silver. "Deputy Zeilinger did exactly what he needed to do and got Mr. Kennedy under control very quickly."

Kennedy is no stranger to the courtroom or even the jail cell. The sheriff said Kennedy has been in and out of jail 22 times in the past seven years. Court records show Kennedy has been charged several times with both misdemeanors and felonies. His past charges include things like threatening, domestic abuse, public intoxication, assault and battery, and assault upon a police officer.

He was in court Wednesday facing charges of assault with a dangerous weapon after two or more felony convictions and assault and battery. Another assault charge was filed against him Thursday, for his courtroom outburst.

Zeilinger says he has come to expect aggressive behavior out of Kennedy, but had given him the benefit of the doubt on Wednesday, because he was in good spirits up until that witness testimony.

"What I'm getting from the time before it happened is that he was unhappy with his attorney," Zeilinger said. "I think he didn't think his attorney was actually fighting for him."

We talked with the defense attorney. He said he wasn't hurt and that he'll no longer be representing Kennedy.

Kennedy is back in jail, where he's been since last April.