When murder suspect David Paradiso attacked a judge this week, was she really his intended target?
The answer will never be known because a Lodi police detective shot and killed Paradiso in the middle of the attack, but some witnesses speculate that San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Cinda Fox was simply the only person Paradiso could reach before he was stopped.
A juror who was standing a few yards away thinks Paradiso wanted to attack Deputy District Attorney Kevin Mayo, the prosecutor who had just started grilling him.
Paradiso's attorney, Chuck Pacheco, thinks he was the intended target, since that would have caused a major delay in the murder trial.
"Judge Fox was nothing but nice to him, respectful of his rights. He had no reason to go after her," Pacheco said. "If a client wants a mistrial, what he does do? He has to cause a conflict between him and his attorney. I have no reservation that shank was meant for me."
Fox, who was treated and released from a Stockton hospital after the Wednesday attack, is expected to make a full recovery and return to work, according to a statement released from the court Friday. She suffered two stab wounds that required stitches - one on her neck beneath her chin and one on her left forearm near the elbow, according to the statement. The judge also had a number of scratches, abrasions and bruises. Juror Bruce Cunningham, who'd never been on a jury before, had paid close attention to Paradiso. He saw someone who stared straight ahead, never looking at the photos and exhibits displayed on a projection screen.
"Shocking is probably a mild word for a lot of the stuff we heard, and the testimony of Mr. Paradiso was probably over-thetop. I don't think you hear that in any court case unless it's someone who is very mentally disturbed and who motivated his life through drugs," Cunningham said.
He was one of 12 jurors and three alternates who sat on the left side of the courtroom during the trial, in a slightly elevated jury box that gives the jurors a good view.
The day before Paradiso launched his attack, he had spent the afternoon testifying in his own defense. He had spoken calmly, sometimes rambling about details before ultimately answering the questions posed to him.
But when Paradiso took the stand Wednesday, things had changed. He didn't want to testify, perhaps because Mayo was about to ask him to explain some inconsistencies.
However, Paradiso was testifying so the jury would learn of his drug use, which would set up his defense that he acted through a methamphetamine-induced psychosis. If so, that could have made the difference between premeditated murder, which could have sent him to prison for life, or manslaughter, which has a maximum penalty of 11 years.
Pacheco briefly reminded Paradiso that if he did not finish his testimony, his entire statement would be stricken from the court record, all but guaranteeing a murder conviction.
Paradiso went to the witness stand, but he was a different person. Cunningham noticed that this time, Paradiso did not slouch in his chair. And he saw that Paradiso was on the balls of his feet, as if he didn't plan to sit for too long.
After Paradiso said his victim deserved to die and made a derogatory remark about her, his mother stood and yelled. A bailiff ordered her to leave, then escorted her out when she did not. Commotion continued in the hallway, and the judge called for a recess for the jury.
Paradiso stood, ignoring commands from the bailiff and the judge, who told him to sit down.
Cunningham, who was standing in the jury box, remembers seeing Paradiso look to his left, at the judge, and to his right, toward another bailiff. Paradiso moved backwards and toward the judge, away from the bailiff, and Cunningham said to the other jurors, "Here we go."
"I personally do not think he wanted to attack the judge; I think he wanted to attack the prosecutor. He was mad at him last week; he did not like Mayo," Cunningham said, noting that Paradiso probably couldn't have made it over the stand in time.
Pacheco, the defense attorney, isn't so sure, reasoning that a number of other prosecutors could take over the case. He does agree that Fox was probably not the intended target.
The shank was fashioned from a six-inch piece of metal, then crudely scraped and sharpened. Paradiso somehow got it into the courthouse - a matter that is still under investigation - and then pulled it out in the courtroom.
Unlike the previous day, Paradiso was not wearing a suit and tie on Wednesday. Instead, he wore a long-sleeved shirt with the top button open. Whether that was done intentionally to make it easier to use or get to the weapon is not known.
In no time, he was suddenly attacking the judge, who was trying to defend herself. Pacheco said he and the bailiff were both trying to get to Paradiso, who was repeatedly stabbing at the judge.
Lodi Police Detective Eric Bradley, the lead investigator in the murder case, then somehow moved from behind the prosecutor's table to Paradiso while unholstering his gun.
Bradley fired twice into Paradiso's upper chest area. Pacheco and Cunningham both said Paradiso came back up and was still driving the weapon at Fox's throat even after being shot.
Bradley fired one more shot, hitting Paradiso in the head, and it was over. Sheriff's spokesman Dave Konecny said Thursday that investigators found the shank still clutched in Paradiso's hand.
If his intention had been to kill someone, he had failed.