Scuffle In The Courtroom Precedes Sentence Of Life In Prison - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Scuffle In The Courtroom Precedes Sentence Of Life In Prison

An East Texas courtroom was the site of a startling incident this afternoon, as a Smith County Assistant District Attorney is punched in the face by a defendant in a high-profile case.

Former Dogwood City daycare owner Jefferson Moore, 58, was found guilty earlier today for aggravated sexual assault of a child.  Witnesses say the jury had just left the courtroom to begin deliberating the punishment phase in the trial, when Moore punched Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jason Parrish in the face. 

"I was going to help our co-counsel load up our books and get everything in our boxes to basically get ready to leave," said Parrish.

"Just as he got to the swinging doors, I saw Mr. Moore get up and take a few steps and punched Jason in the right jaw," said Gayle Abbott, who witnessed the attack.

Abbott says as many as six bailiffs jumped in to restrain Moore. She says about 20 people were inside the courtroom when the scuffle took place.

Judge Kerry Russell cleared the courtroom, as bailiffs brought Moore under control. He was placed in handcuffs, leg irons and a belly chain.

Despite the disruption, jurors continued their deliberations and came back with their decision shortly after 6:00 p.m.  Moore was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for the December 2004 incident at Dogwood City Preschool and Daycare.

"This was definitely justice in this case," said Parrish.

Jefferson Moore's son, who witnessed his father punch Parrish, says the incident was provoked. "If someone called you a name over and over and over and got in your face and called you something that you wasn't over and over, what would you do? Hello, I would break, especially if I was innocent," said Jefferson Moore III.

Moore is expected to be tried on the two other counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child he faces.  In addition, Moore is now charged with two counts of assault on a public servant for today's incident. As far as Parrish's condition, he says he did not require medical treatment and he was not in pain at the time we conducted our interview.    

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.


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