Judge threatens to shock defendant
Man accused of stabbing forced to wear belt after repeated outbursts in court
WARREN — A judge, in response to the repeated outbursts of defendant who was acting as his own attorney Monday, threatened to use a shock belt to keep the man in order during his felonious assault trial.
Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald Rice repeatedly told Richard G. Spencer II, 49, 2328 Jackson St. SW, to allow witnesses to fully answer a question before going to the next one and to stop slipping into questions what otherwise would be considered testimony.
Spencer is accused of the Dec. 1, 2016, stabbing of Kevin Williams, who, according to reports, threw him out of his house after accusing him of smoking crack cocaine.
Rice, after asking Spencer nearly a dozen times not to put testimony into questions and to refrain from claiming he was being railroaded by the court, charged the defendant with contempt and ordered deputies to place a shock belt on him.
Rice warned the defendant that if he continued making outbursts and disrupting the proceedings deputies would be authorized to shock him.
Last week, Spencer asked for Attorney Charles Mickens, who was representing the Trumbull County Public Defender’s Office, to be removed as his counsel and that he be allowed to represent himself.
Although the court tried to convince Spencer to keep Mickens, he was allowed to put on his own defense through jury selection and initial witnesses.
However, Rice ordered Mickens to remain in the courtroom should he be needed.
During a confrontation outside the jury’s view, Spencer suggested he was not prepared to competently defend himself. Rice then ordered Mickens to take over Spencer’s defense.
Williams entered the house at 1211 Main St. and found Spencer “… in thick smoke on all four on basement floor,” according to witnesses.
Williams testified that he repeatedly asked Spencer to get out of the house. At one point, Williams, said, he went down into the basement and grabbed Spencer’s arm and began guiding him up the basement stairs.
“As we went up the stairs, he (Spencer) stopped and began lighting his (crack) pipe,” Williams said.
At that point, Williams said, he grabbed a belt loop on the rear of Spencer’s pants and the back of his shirt to force him up the stairs.
As they reached the top of the stairs, Williams said, the two men struggled and punched one another.
Alonzo Hall, a teenager who was in the house, described a struggle, but said Williams, who was his mother’s live-in boyfriend, appeared to be doing most of the punching as the two men moved through the kitchen, dining and living rooms and eventually out the front door.
Hall said he heard Spencer saying he was sorry.
As Spencer and Williams reached the front porch, the two men fell together on the ground, Hall said. Hall said he saw a knife that was approximately seven inches long on the ground and then hearing Williams say he was stabbed in the back.
“I did not see him stab him,” Hall said.
Williams said he and Spencer were punching and kicking one another as they moved through the house.
“I picked him up and threw him off the porch,” he said. “I saw a knife on the ground and dived. I kicked him and he (Spencer) grabbed my right ankle. As I turned away from him, I was stabbed in the back.”
Williams said he went back into the house and fell unconscious on the living room floor.
But Hall testified that Williams had followed Spencer across the street to a home on Second Street in an attempt to stop him from calling 911 for help.
Afterwards, they went back across the street to the Main Street home, he said.
Hall flagged down the police officer who was going to the Second Street home where the 911 call was made.
Williams testified he was in a coma for several days, that his spleen was removed and that he remained in the hospital through Dec. 18, 2016.
Closing arguments and jury instructions were given.