VIDEO | Murder defendant dragged from Louisville courtroom after outburst
A man accused of murder had to be dragged out of a Jefferson County courtroom Thursday as he repeatedly screamed, "I'm not gonna let you steal my soul!"
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A man accused of murdering a woman then burning her body in 2013 had to be dragged out of a Jefferson County courtroom Thursday after he blew up in court, repeatedly screaming that someone stole his soul.
Gerry Lawson, 56, was in court for a pre-trial hearing in the murder case against him. Courtroom video shows him being escorted into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit by deputies. At first, he enters silently, but moments after walking into the courtroom, he suddenly begins screaming.
"I'm not gonna let you steal my soul!" Lawson screams several times, according to video from Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Jim Shake's courtroom, just before 10 a.m.
The video appears to show Lawson moving in the direction of his defense attorney, Mike Lemke, when the view shifts to a different camera angle, showing Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Shelly Alvey jumping out of the way.
Deputies scuffled with Lawson for about 30 second before eventually gaining control and dragging him out of the courtroom.
"You alright Mike?" Judge Shake asks the defense attorney.
"I need a minute..." Lemke said.
"You alright Mike?" Judge Shake asked again.
"Yes sir," Lemke said.
They attorneys then agreed to to continue the hearing without Lawson.
"We're not going to bring him back out there," Judge Shake said.
The video then appears to show an exasperated Lemke tell the judge that he hopes Lawson's murder trial will not begin next week.
"I need a weekend to think about what I'm going to do," he said, adding a moment later that, "I have been spit on before in court, but this is new."
The discussion between the attorneys then moves to previous attempts to conduct attempted evaluations of Lawson at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC). Alvey explained what a doctor told her about the progress of the evaluations.
"By question three, he had to be escorted out," she said. "He was banging on the desk. He refused to cooperate. He said the whole time that he was at KCPC this time…when he wasn’t interacting with other people, he was watching TV in his room, but refused to cooperate with any type of evaluation."
But she also noted one doctor's skepticism about what they were seeing.
"Dr. Allen’s diagnosis has been consistent from 2013 to now, that he's malingering, and that all of this -- and every time we come to court -- is completely a show," she said.
Alvey then expressed frustration that the case has been slow to move to trial due to competency evaluations.
"What the Commonwealth is concerned about is this…this homicide happened in 2013," she said.
"Yeah, it’s an old case," Judge Shake agreed.
"I know that the paramount concern right now is everyone's safety," Alvey continued a moment later. "But my victim's family -- this particular trial date -- moved an entire cruise they had already paid for. And we advised them, obviously, things can happen. But they are looking for closure from our system for this...and it will be sometime next year before I will be available to try the case. So what I would ask is that maybe we can all meet and put our heads together to try to figure out how we can best accomplish trying this case the next time that it gets set."
"That sounds reasonable to me," Lemke agreed.
"I agree, the case has to go forward the next time it comes up," Judge Shake said. "And that will be true whether he needs to be restrained or whether he gets to stay out here or not. Hopefully it won’t come to that."
A new pre-trial conference has been set for Tuesday, Aug. 16.
Lawson is charged with murder, arson, tampering with physical evidence, and abuse of a corpse. Police say on March 3, 2013, he torched the Cypress Street house where Vernice Aniton lived.
The 64-year-old woman was found dead, and following an autopsy, police announced her death was suspicious.
Lawson was apprehended in Texas in July 2013.
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