9 Shocking And Outrageous Courtroom Outbursts
1. The father who attacked his daughter’s grinning killer in court
In June 2016, during a sentencing hearing for Michael Madison, a serial killer responsible for the torture and murder of three women, Van Terry took the stand to speak to the man who killed his 18-year old daughter, Shirellda Terry.
“Right now, I guess we’re supposed to, in our hearts forgive this clown, who has touched our families, taken my child,” he said, turning toward Madison.
It was at that point Madison smirked—and Terry had enough. He lunged across the room barely missing the killer, who officers quickly hustled out of harm’s way, while others struggled to restrain the grieving dad.
Terry said he wanted to see the man who “hurt my daughter. When I turned around to look at him, with that grin, I lost my mind. I wanted to break his jaw. Get that grin off his face.”
Madison received the death penalty and prosecutors are still deciding whether or not to charge Terry with a crime. We sincerely hope they don’t.
2. The Uber shooter that was dragged out of court after a nonsensical outburst
A victim of the Uber driver accused of murdering six people in a February 2016 shooting spree was testifying when the killer, Jason Dalton, yelled nonsensically about “old people with black bags,” and someone needing “to go to temple.”
Tiana Carruthers, who was on the stand, broke down crying, and the judge called for a recess. Four sheriff’s deputies literally dragged Dalton out since he simply went limp rather than walk.
The outburst came as Carruthers described how she protected the four children she was with when Dalton opened fire on the group as they were walking to a playground near their home.
Dalton intends to plead insanity.
3. The notorious cult killer who tried to kill the presiding judge during trial
During the Manson Family trial in 1970, Manson and his followers disrupted court proceedings many times. At one point, Manson even tried to kill the presiding judge.
The 22-week trial spun from dramatic to ridiculous to frightening. Manson carved an “X” on his forehead and altered it over time until it became a swastika. The other defendants copied him. At times, they chanted rhythmically in Latin.
During one session, an unkempt and nervous Manson sat quietly tapping a pencil against the table while a sheriff’s homicide detective was questioned. After all defense attorneys had bypassed questioning, Manson asked, “May I ask a question?”
Judge Charles H. Older silently refused the request, and Manson raised his voice: “Are you going to use this courtroom to kill me?” Manson repeated the sentence several times, then added, “If you are going to use this courtroom to kill me, you know what I’ll have to do.”
Words were exchanged between Manson and the judge. Manson then shouted, “You think I’m kidding!” He jumped onto his chair and leaped over a five-foot-wide table toward the bench. Two deputies followed, tackling Manson. All three crashed to the floor. They pulled him to his feet and led him toward a holding cell. As he struggled, he turned toward the judge, shouting, “In the name of Christian justice, someone should cut your head off.”
Since there were no cameras in the courtroom during the Manson trial, this scene from the 1976 made-for-TV movie Helter Skelter will have to do.
4. The woman who shot her daughter’s alleged murderer in court
Marianne Bachmeier became famous after she shot the alleged murderer of her daughter, Anna, in the District Court of Lübeck in 1981.
Anna Bachmeier, 7, was on her way to visit a friend when she was abducted by a 35-year-old sex offender named Klaus Grabowski. Grabowski raped and murdered the little girl before burying her in a shallow grave.
On the third day of Grabowski’s trial, Marianne smuggled a Beretta M1934 into the courtroom and shot him in the back. He was killed instantly.
Marianne was initially charged with murder, but that was reduced to manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm. She spent six years in prison and admitted that she had shot Grabowski after careful consideration, to enforce the law on him and to prevent him from further spreading lies about Anna. (Source)
5. The mob matriarch’s profanity-laced tirade against a federal judge
Mob matriarch Victoria Gotti unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade at a federal judge during the trial of her son, John A. (Junior) Gotti.
“F—– animals!” screamed the seething mother. “They’re railroading you! They’re doing to you what they did to your father! You f—— liar! You bastard!”
Junior tried to calm his mother by saying, “I can deal with it. I’m okay. Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.” But Victoria kept going. “They’re the gangsters, right there!” she yelled. “The f—— gangsters! You son of a bitches! Put your own sons in there. You bastards!”
Victoria was hustled from the courtroom by three of her children. Her outburst came after a federal judge booted a purportedly pro-defense juror.
The 12 jurors in the trial eventually announced that they had failed to reach a unanimous verdict on all the charges and the judge declared a mistrial. Federal prosecutors did not seek another trial against Gotti, and he was released in December 2009. (Source)
6. The Montana man whose repeated outbursts in court went viral
In 2013, Ernie Tertelgte, 52, represented himself against misdemeanor charges of obstructing an officer and resisting arrest relating to an incident where he was cited for fishing without a license. He became famous for his frequent outbursts during court proceedings and was ultimately found guilty on two charges.
Tertelgte objected to being referred to by his legal name, and instead demanded the court recognize him as “the living man.” He argued that “universal law” allows him to hunt for food to feed himself. The footage of his bizarre court appearance went viral on YouTube. Watch below:
7. The TV judge who found himself in contempt after his outburst in court
TV’s Judge Joe Brown was released on his own recognizance after being sentenced to five days in jail for five separate charges of contempt in court by a Tennessee judge.
Brown, 66, was in court to represent a client in a child support case when he became “pretty raucous” and “challenged the authority” of Judge Harold “Hal” Horne.
“He darn near caused a riot in the courtroom, he had people so inflamed,” said Dan Michael, chief magistrate judge of the Shelby County Juvenile Court. Brown was given several chances to relax before being hauled out of the courtroom. (Source)
8. The murderous mother who confessed during a custody hearing
In 2015, Mitchelle Blair, 35, was charged with the murder and torture of her children, Stoni Ann Blair, 13, and Stephen Gage Berry, 9. Their bodies were found in a freezer in Blair’s home during an eviction.
During a custody hearing for her two surviving kids, Blair screamed out while the 8-year-old testified that he saw his mother kill his siblings: “Everybody wants to know. Yes, I did kill her!”
Blair confessed to abusing and killing the kids and claimed that she did so because they were sexually assaulting her surviving son. She has since been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
9. The teen murderer who showed up in court with the word “killer” written on his t-shirt
In 2014, 18-year-old T.J. Lane was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing three high school students and injuring three others in a shooting rampage the year before.
When the shooting victims’ families were given the opportunity to address the court as Lane received his sentencing, he smirked and unbuttoned his blue shirt to reveal a white t-shirt with the word “killer” written across it in capital letters. He rocked back and forth in his chair as victims’ relatives and called him “repulsive,” wished him an “extremely slow, torturous death,” and said he should be locked away “like an animal.”
When given the opportunity to respond, Lane showed no remorse. “This hand that pulled the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory. F— all of you,” Lane said before giving the victims’ families the middle finger.
Because Lane was 17 at the time of the shooting, he was ineligible to receive the death penalty. (Source)
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