An accused murderer who was testifying at his trial in Stockton was shot and killed by police Wednesday after he got up from the witness stand and attacked the judge, authorities said.
David Paradiso, who was on trial for stabbing his girlfriend in the neck and dumping her body near a road, was killed after he stabbed Superior Court Judge Cinda Fox, authorities said. It was unclear what he used to stab the judge.
Fox, who was taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center, was being treated in the emergency room and was reported to be in good condition. The nature of her injuries was not disclosed.
The police officer who shot Paradiso was identified as Lodi Det. Eric Bradley, the lead investigator in the murder case, who was in court observing the proceedings. He was placed on paid administrative leave while authorities investigate the shooting.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, which is heading that investigation, provided only sketchy details of the incident.
“The suspect was being cross-examined,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Konecny. “The suspect made a move toward the judge with an unknown cutting instrument. A Lodi police officer immediately came forward, striking the suspect and stopping the assault.”
According to accounts from reporters for the Lodi News-Sentinel and the Stockton Record who were in the courtroom, the jurors were leaving for a break when Paradiso stood up, walked behind the judge and attacked her.
The Lodi newspaper reported that Paradiso’s mother, Debra, said after the shooting that her family had tried to warn jailers about two weeks ago that her son had a weapon and had been carrying it into the courtroom.
A video posted on the Stockton Record website shows Fox sitting up on a stretcher with a bandage on her left arm as she is wheeled from the courthouse to a waiting ambulance. The building was evacuated after the shooting.
Paradiso, 29, had testified that he was suffering from paranoia after taking methamphetamine when he stabbed Eileen Pelt, 20, his girlfriend of two weeks, in December 2006. He said he believed she was going to kill him that night if he did not kill her first.
At the time of the killing, the couple were riding in the back seat of a car driven by Paradiso’s mother. She has said that she did not hear any argument before the stabbing. Paradiso also was charged with kidnapping his mother and forcing her to drive to neighboring Amador County, where he dumped Pelt’s body.
The slaying occurred in Lodi but the trial was being held in Stockton, about 15 miles away.