By The Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — A suburban Dallas man used a thin blade from a safety razor to slit his throat in an apparent suicide attempt Tuesday in the courtroom where a judge had just sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
Marcial Anguiano, 47, of Duncanville, was taken from the Dallas County courthouse on a stretcher with his neck covered in bandages, state District Judge Larry Mitchell said.
Anguiano, who was talking as he was carried out, was hospitalized in stable condition, Dallas County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Leach said. The blade cut into muscle but did not strike an artery.
Anguiano took the stand Tuesday and said he hoped to be sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to aggravated assault for cutting his niece with a butcher knife. But the judge, influenced by the defendant’s five previous prison stints, instead sentenced him to 40 years.
“He looked up at me kind of quizzically and said, ’40 years?’” Mitchell told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “And I said, ‘Yes, 40 years.’”
Anguiano immediately pulled out the razor blade and “put it to his throat hard, and blood started gushing out,” Mitchell said.
The courtroom bailiffs rushed the defendant, handcuffed him and led him to the holding cell adjacent to the courtroom, where he waited until paramedics arrived.
No one else was injured.
“If the bailiffs hadn’t intervened, he was certainly capable of causing his own death,” Mitchell said.
Anguiano bled on the railing that separates the courtroom audience from the front of the court, and on the first row of benches. Mitchell’s court shut down for about 30 minutes while custodians cleaned up the mess. Court was back in session by late morning.
Defense attorney Juan Sanchez told The Dallas Morning News he saw his client “do something with his right arm” when Mitchell issued the sentence. Sanchez did not immediately return a message left by the AP.
Before the hearing began, a bailiff noticed Anguiano holding something in his hand. The bailiff ordered the defendant to put the object down on the defense table. He complied, and the bailiff confiscated one blade. But a second blade went undiscovered.
Inmates are searched and receive a patdown before being transferred from the jail, which is next to the courthouse and connected underground, Leach said. Inmates receive safety razors at the jail for shaving but are not allowed to keep them.
“We have great safety procedures and policies in place, but we are looking to see how this happened,” Leach said. “If there was human error involved, there could be possible disciplinary action.”
It is unclear whether Anguiano will face additional charges for sneaking contraband into court. Mitchell said his actions were almost certainly illegal but speculated that the “40-year sentence is probably more than enough for him.”
Mitchell said the sheriff’s department, which runs the jail, and bailiffs “already do a terrific job.”
“I have always felt very safe in the courtroom as a lawyer and a judge,” Mitchell said.