Security questioned after man stabs self in courtroom

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Vicksburg man appearing Monday in Circuit Court attempted to stab himself inside the courtroom, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

Deputies wrestled Anthony Terry, 21, 413 Galtney Drive, to the floor when he pulled a box cutter after Circuit Judge M. James Chaney ordered that he be held overnight in the county jail before his trial for statutory rape, Pace said.

“He had two superficial cuts to his abdomen that he inflicted on himself,” Pace said. “When he was brought back to the jail, he was examined by the nursing staff at the jail and did not require hospitalization or stitches.”

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Terry was set to go to trial Tuesday on the rape charge and had previously missed court dates, District Attorney Ricky Smith said.

“I had requested an arrest warrant for him because he had been difficult to locate,” Smith said. “We didn’t want to bring the jury in and have to go find him.”

Security in the courtroom is left to the discretion of circuit court judges, Pace said, and during high-profile cases judges often order that people entering the courtroom be scanned with a wand metal detector.

Pace said he has met with Chaney and Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick in the past few months to talk about permanent walk-through metal detectors for the courtroom.

“Unfortunately, that has never been funded,” Pace said.

Similar metal detectors are in place in Vicksburg Municipal Court.

Smith said he is in favor of increased security for the courthouse. The District Attorney’s Office is located on the second floor of the courthouse, a few feet from the courtroom entrance. Defendants who have posted bail and are not incarcerated may freely walk into the district attorney’s office before entering court.

“This incident shows you how easy it is for someone with ill intent to bring a weapon into the courtroom,” Smith said.

On Tuesday, Terry appeared in court without incident and pleaded guilty to statutory rape. He was sentenced by Chaney to five years in prison, Smith said.

Terry was held on suicide watch this morning in the Warren County Jail where he is awaiting transfer to a state facility.