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Man on trial for murder slashes attorney's face in court

A Central California man on trial for murder faces additional charges after he slashed his attorney in the face in a courtroom attack, officials said.

As jurors entered the Tulare County courtroom Monday morning, Rafael Mendoza, 29, cut public defender John Shepard in the face with a makeshift weapon, the Fresno Bee reported. A sheriff's bailiff and Tulare police officers detained Mendoza and helped the attorney.

Mendoza, who is accused of killing a 25-year-old woman whose body was found in May 2010, faces attempted murder charges for the courtroom attack, sheriff's officials told the newspaper. Judge Valeriano Saucedo declared a mistrial in the murder trial, which was entering its third week.

The incident was the second attack in Tulare County Superior Court this week, the Bee reported. Last week, a former Tulare County correctional deputy on trial for child molestation attacked a detective as a guilty verdict was read against him.

Bailiffs used a stun gun to subdue Michael Risenhoover, who officials said "lunged past his attorney" and grabbed a detective who had investigated his case. The detective was not seriously hurt, the newspaper said.

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— Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

 
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