Judge orders Black defendant’s mouth taped shut during sentencing
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 8/3/2018, 10:55 a.m.
A judge in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, ordered court officials to tape a defendant’s mouth shut during his sentencing, reports the New York Post. Judge John Russo apparently made the order when the defendant, convicted of robbery, wouldn’t stop interrupting his attorney during his sentencing hearing. Video from the courtroom shows the defendant – Franklyn Williams – talking over his legal counsel, even after the judge issued several warnings. “At this point I am going to hear from your lawyers, and that means zip it,” the judge says as Williams continued to talk back. “If we have to, I will gag you in one second,” Russo adds sternly. “Zip it until I give you a chance to talk.” Even after a sheriff’s deputy covered his mouth with tape, Williams, 32, kept speaking, saying, “It is what it is” through the gag. Eventually, the verbose convict got slapped with 24 years in prison. In December, Williams was convicted of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, theft, misuse of credit cards and other charges, according to court documents. His trial, which began late last year, hit a snag when he snipped off his ankle bracelet and fled to Nebraska. He claimed he’d been hit over the head and had lost his memory. But in court last Tuesday, prosecutors played phone calls to his family proving he did remember the charges he was facing. He’d also used his phone to research how to beat criminal charges.