There was an awful incident in Fargo, North Dakota, yesterday, as a defendant died by suicide in a federal courthouse.
North Dakota U.S. Marshal Dallas Carlson told reporters the man “produced an edge weapon and cut his throat” after a jury returned a partial guilty verdict. The defendant faced terrorizing-related charges.
As WDAY News reports, the jury was not present in the courtroom at the time of the incident, though there were other witnesses, including U.S. District Judge Peter Welte. A witness describes the horrifying scene:
A witness, who asked not to be identified, was in the courtroom for another hearing that was on the court’s schedule. After the man was found guilty and it was apparent he would face several years in prison, he asked to be released until sentencing, she said. When the judge said no, he then asked to be released for 24 hours to take care of a child care situation. The judge said no to that, too, the witness said.
“The male was standing up. He started fidgeting … with his neck,” she said. “His attorney asked him, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And the guy turned around, and you could see the inside of his neck. He had slit his neck with some object. There was blood all over the walls in the courtroom, and the Marshals had wrestled him to the floor. You could hear him screaming, ‘I can’t breathe.’”
The FBI is investigating how the defendant was able to smuggle contraband into the courtroom:
“I can’t remember the last time an event like this happened where somebody was able to smuggle in some contraband into a federal courtroom and die of a self-inflicted wound. Very, very, very odd. Very unusual,” said FBI spokesman Kevin Smith. “We will take our time to get to the bottom of it.”
The man was out on bond prior to the verdict, and reportedly entered the Quentin Burdick Courthouse through the security checkpoint at the main entrance.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).