TACOMA, Wash. — It was brazen and brutal. Three men attacked a handcuffed defendant inside a Pierce County Courthouse, and the incident was captured on video.
The attack was a violent footnote to a gang retaliation murder trial.
“The volatility of this trial was extremely high,” said Sgt. Jesus Villahermosa.
Courthouse surveillance cameras captured the speed with which the three men pushed their attack about two weeks ago.
“Their intent was absolutely – I believe exactly what he said – to kill him,” Villahermosa said.
“Him” is the defendant, 20-year-old Marsele Henderson, who allegedly murdered Victor Schwenke in 2008 in retaliation for a shooting outside a sweet 16 party earlier that same night.
Henderson, who shows no outward signs of the attack, spoke exclusively with KOMO News.
“My mom and dad was there, and that kind of scared me. Like it shouldn’t have been able to go that far,” he said.
Authorities say Henderson’s trial had already been marked by gang-style violence. One witness had his car burned after testifying. Another was threatened. Then came the courthouse attack.
“May not ever end,” Henderson said of the violence. “I mean, that’s not a good thing to say, but you understand the decisions that go on.”
“Every witness was afraid. I believe the jury was afraid, logically,” said Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor Greg Greer. “It was very scary.”
Jail staff had already beefed up security with three officers escorting Henderson instead of the standard two. But courthouse security only has just a three-person team to cover the entire courthouse.
Security officials say officers followed procedures perfectly to bring the attack under control. The three people seen storming the defendant on camera are all being held in jail on $150,000 bail.
Sentencing for Henderson is set for next month.