The mother of an assault suspect nearly found herself behind bars Monday after she was ejected from a Lodi courtroom and then allegedly made threats against a witness testifying against her son.
The woman, whose name was not made public in court, allegedly told a Lodi man that he was supposed to be her son's friend, a prosecutor said in court.
Then the mother added, "I'll have your ass," Deputy District Attorney Janet Williams said. A Lodi police officer testified that he observed the exchange outside the courtroom.
It remains to be seen whether the woman will be charged - the case got even more complicated when the alleged threatening victim subsequently told a judge that he didn't want to testify because of his own safety.
The woman was initially sitting in the Lodi courtroom at a hearing for her son, Joseph Shuman, 21, who is charged in a brutal June beating that left a teenager with a broken jaw and fractured skull.
At 1 a.m. on June 15, the 17-year-old victim was bicycling home from a friend's house along Century Boulevard when he reached a park near Ham Lane. A group of young men surrounded him, one commented on his fedora and then they began punching him.
The teen was knocked unconscious and later managed to call for help. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he stayed overnight and had to return several times for surgery on his jaw.
His family raised money for a reward, which was mentioned in a News-Sentinel article, and police arrested two 17-year-old boys within days. Both admitted to participating in the beating and said they had no reason to attack the victim, Lodi Police Cpl. Roger Butterfield testified Monday.
Those two suspects were ultimately convicted in juvenile court and were committed to the California Youth Authority. Last month, police arrested Shuman, who pleaded not guilty Dec. 24 to felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and battery.
Shuman appeared in court Monday for a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors call witnesses to testify and a judge rules if there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
Shuman's mother was ejected from the courtroom after she began commenting about the victim's mother being allowed to stay in the courtroom near her son. She stormed out and was yelling outside the courtroom as the door was still closing.
Butterfield, who was waiting outside the courtroom to testify, saw her approach a witness, heard at least part of the exchange and notified Williams.
After other witnesses testified, Williams told Judge David Warner that she suspects they may have been contacted at some point. Witness testimony differed and at times was very vague when it related to Shuman, and one witness began crying even though she said she never even saw the assault victim.
Threatening allegations aside, Warner ruled that Shuman will stand trial. He remains in the county jail in lieu of $75,000 bail and will appear in Stockton court Jan. 22.