A defendant serving time in a state prison for hurling courtroom chairs at a local judge reacted to a sentencing in another local case by flipping over a courtroom defense table before being hauled away by Bartholomew County correctional officers.
It was the third violent outburst in Columbus from Jordan L. Rhoades, 21, now an inmate at the Miami Correctional Facility in Peru, in just over a year.
The Columbus man was being sentenced Wednesday by Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton on three Level 5 felony counts of battery with bodily injury to a public safety officer. Represented by public defender David A. Nowak, Rhoades had agreed to a plea bargain that limited his sentence to a maximum of six years.
The sentence stems from a Sept. 4 incident in the county jail when Rhoades was accused of taking metal rods from a cell door and throwing them at three deputies, leaving scrapes, scratches and bruises on the officers.
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Rhoades is already serving five years in state custody for hurling chairs in the direction of Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Tighe Coriden and deputy prosecutor Jeremy Fisk during a court hearing in Bartholomew Superior Court 2 on Feb. 9, 2017.
In Wednesday’s hearing, Rhoades was accompanied by several deputies seated strategically around the courtroom during the hearing, closely watching the defendant during the proceeding.
Rhoades gave a statement prior to the sentencing, saying he understood that what he had done in the jail was wrong, and appeared calm. One of the female deputies who was injured in the jail incident was in the courtroom behind the prosecution table.
Deputy Prosecutor Gregory E. Long told Worton he was asking for the entire six-year sentence to be imposed, consecutive to the five-year sentence the defendant received on the chair-throwing incident. Long said that request was based on Rhoades’ criminal history, and a high risk that Rhoades would reoffend in the future. The judge agreed.
Addressing Rhoades directly, Worton said there would be consequence to his actions — sentenced him to one-third of the maximum 18-year penalty.
After his right to appeal was explained, Rhoades began to say how an argument in the jail led to injuries sustained by the corrections officers.
Worton listened for a minute, but when Rhoades demanded that “you are going to listen to me” while pounding the table and using profanity, the judge cut him off.
As deputies moved to surround Rhoades, he stood up and flipped over the heavy table. He was immediately dragged from the courtroom as officers took him back to the county jail, where he would await transport back to Miami County.
A microphone, lamp and paperwork were scattered in front of the judge’s bench near the overturned table, but no one was injured.
The sheriff’s department has a video of the incident, but is not releasing it at the request of state judicial officials, who prohibit footage from being disseminated without their permission.
Worton, a former Columbus police chief, has had experience with people getting angry in his presence, but has not had an outburst to that degree in his courtroom, he said.
“I try to foster an environment of calm in the courtroom,” Worton said.
At the point where Rhoades began cursing, Worton said that was something he wasn’t going to tolerate, and that was when the defendant elected to flip the table.
Sheriff Matt Myers said corrections officers in the courtroom did exactly what they were supposed to do, securing Rhoades quickly so no one was injured.
The information gathered from the incident will be turned over to Prosecutor Bill Nash for possible charges, Myers said.
“We are not going to tolerate this type of behavior, and this guy has a pattern of it,” the sheriff said.