Murder defendant slips restraints in court, stabs his lawyer with pen. All good, attorney says

A.F. Bray Courts Building 1010 Ward St. in Martinez California
A defendant attacked his attorney with a pen, then lunged toward a deputy district attorney at the A.F. Bray Courts Building in Martinez, Calif., on Monday. (Google Maps)

An Oakland man on trial in the killing of his ex-girlfriend cut through a lap restraint and attacked his attorney with a pen, then lunged toward the prosecutor, creating a chaotic courtroom scene Monday as a Contra Costa County jury watched, officials said.

Ramello Randle, 28, is now facing additional charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and battery, said Jimmy Lee, spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff.

His defense attorney, Matt Fregi, said he harbored "no ill will toward" his client, who had already cycled through several attorneys before him.

"Nothing serious," he said of his injuries. "Everyone thought it was a lot more serious than what it was."

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Randle is accused of working with Christopher Slaughter to track 24-year-old Jonaye Lahkel Bridges with a GPS attached to her car in July 2020. Bridges and Randle had been embroiled in a bitter child custody battle. Prosecutors said Randle followed her to a 7-Eleven in Antioch and fired into her car, where she was sitting with another man. The man was hit by gunfire but survived. Bridges was killed.

Slaughter, who was a co-defendant in the case, earlier took a plea deal.

Outbursts in Randle's case are nothing new, and this fracas raises questions about whether Superior Court Judge John W. Kennedy, who is presiding over the case, will declare a mistrial.

In 2022, a previous judge declared a mistrial after Randle, who had been representing himself, unleashed what the Bay Area News Group described as "chaotic, profanity-ridden pandemonium." He cycled through several attorneys after losing his right to represent himself, including one whom the outlet said he "took a swing at" in open court last year.

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On Monday, the attorneys at A.F. Bray Courthouse in Martinez had hoped the case would be coming to a close. Jurors had been listening to the defense's final witness, Randle's brother, around 11 a.m. when, according to a source at the scene, Randle jammed the pen into Fregi's head and again near his jaw. He then headed toward Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin Bell, who had been standing near the jury box. But he never reached him.

"The courtroom was immediately cleared," sheriff's spokesperson Lee said. "The Fire Department responded to assess both of the attorneys, who refused medical attention."

Bell is "fine," having only a scratch on his finger, said Ted Asregadoo, a spokesperson for the Contra Costa County district attorney. The case will resume Tuesday.

"We hopefully decide to forge ahead," Fregi said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.