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Defendant cuts his throat in courtroom

September 8, 2009 2:40:01 PM PDT
A 31-year-old defendant tried to slash his throat as his trial on an attempted murder charge was nearing its conclusion.Officials say Darnell Stewart cut his throat around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday inside an Inglewood courtroom, just as the judge was about to rule on whether to let jurors consider a lesser charge and closing arguments were about to begin.

The 31-year-old's attorney says the pair was sitting at the defense table when Stewart started to hyperventilate and said he couldn't go down for the crime. Stewart then pulled out a broken piece of razor blade and tried to slit his throat.

Stewart was rushed to the hospital, where he was treated for a superficial wound. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Stewart has been in custody throughout his trial. Officials say inmates have access to disposable razors, but they aren't sure if that is how he got the piece of blade.

The judge declared a mistrial because the jurors witnessed what had happened. A retrial has been set for November.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is investigating how Stewart got a weapon into the courtroom.

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