Suspect slaps attorney in courtroom

September 5, 2008 3:15:56 PM PDT
A suspected bank robber slapped his attorney in the face in federal court, then had handcuffs slapped on him. Marvin Goodlow Washington, 27, is charged with taking about $2,700 from a Bank of America in January after threatening to stab a teller, although he never displayed a weapon, police said. Washington, who was indicted in February, has not been arraigned because U.S. Magistrate Jeffrey C. Manske ordered a mental evaluation.

Washington was back in federal court Thursday so the judge could determine whether he had regained competency. Just before the hearing was to begin, his attorney Stan Schwieger was talking with Washington while he was seated near defendants in other cases.

Suddenly, Washington slapped Schwieger on the side of the face. Courtroom personnel quickly handcuffed Washington and led him out. Schwieger appeared stunned but was not seriously hurt, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported in Friday editions.

When the judge took the bench moments later, he asked Schwieger if he could continue to represent Washington despite the assault.

Schwieger attributed the incident to Washington's psychosis and said that he could keep representing him unless authorities later decide to charge Washington.

The judge ordered Washington sent back to a federal medical facility to see if more treatment can help him become competent to stand trial. He referred to a report from medical officials who said Washington was still not competent.

Manske also asked Schwieger and the federal prosecutor if they could reach an agreement allowing officials to forcibly medicate Washington. If they cannot agree on that issue, another hearing will be held.

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