A routine appearance by a state prison inmate in Washington County Circuit Court in Hagerstown turned profane and then violent Thursday morning, with the man cursing Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. and then swinging at deputies and corrections officers, witnesses said.
Nestor Enrique Simmons, 35, an inmate at Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown, was in court for his initial appearance on charges of having three concealed weapons while in confinement.
Long was advising him of his legal rights when Simmons spoke up, according to court reporter Tracy Zamora.
"What kind of games are you playing?" Simmons asked Long.
Simmons repeated the query twice as the judge continued to tell him his rights, Zamora said.
"Why don’t you go ---- off?" Simmons said to Long, according to Zamora.
Long warned Simmons against another outburst, but Simmons followed up with a different sexually explicit suggestion aimed at the judge, Zamora said.
Long said later that he found Simmons in contempt of court and ordered him removed from the courtroom.
Simmons was not represented in court by an attorney.
As he was being led away, Simmons, who was not wearing handcuffs or leg shackles, slapped at a clipboard resting on a railing, Zamora said.
As deputies tried to subdue him, Simmons began swinging at the deputies and corrections officers, who then hustled him to a room at the rear of the courtroom, she said.
In addition to the judge, court staff, deputies and corrections officers in the courtroom, the incident was witnessed by a group of people waiting to see if they would be selected for a jury in another defendant’s case.
Clerk Gwen Ross said there were 43 prospective jurors in the room.
The incident is under investigation, Capt. Paul Boyer of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday afternoon.
Simmons had been charged in November after being found with one homemade weapon in his sock and two more in his cell, according to the application for statement of charges. Two were made of razor blades, and another was a toothbrush handle sharpened to a point, the document said.
The maximum penalty for the weapons charges that Simmons faces is 10 years each.