A 36-year-old Baltimore man who allegedly struck Chief Baltimore Circuit Judge Wanda Heard in the head Wednesday with a metal water pitcher in a downtown courtroom has been charged with assault.
Travis Burroughs, already incarcerated for decades on rape and other charges, had just been sentenced by Heard to an additional life sentence, with all but 70 years suspended, for sodomy and false imprisonment when he picked up the water pitcher and threw it at Heard, striking her “somewhere around the middle of her forehead,” according to Maj. Sabrina Tapp-Harper, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office.
Before grabbing and throwing the pitcher at the judge, Burroughs became “upset” as his sentencing was being announced, according to charging documents obtained Thursday by The Baltimore Sun.
After being struck, the judge fell back as the pitcher hit the ground. A deputy sheriff in the courtroom took Burroughs to the ground and restrained him with handcuffs with the help from Department of Corrections officers. Burroughs was escorted out the courtroom and taken to lockup, charging documents say.
Heard immediately recessed the proceeding to seek medical attention, officials said.
Heard sustained a large contusion to the middle of her forehead along with injuries to her neck and upper back. She was taken to the emergency room at nearby Mercy Hospital, charging documents say.
A crime lab took photos of Burroughs after he complained about injuries to his hands and arms. He was then taken to to central booking, where he was charged, documents say.
Burroughs was charged subsequently with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and use of a dangerous weapon with the intent to injure, Tapp-Harper said.
He does not have an attorney listed in the case in online court records. An attorney representing him in the case that was before Heard could not be reached for comment.
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Heard has been a judge since 1999. The incident occurred about 10:40 a.m. as she was presiding over Burroughs’ sentencing hearing in Room 400 of the courthouse at 100 N. Calvert St. downtown.
Tapp-Harper said Heard was alert while being treated. She said the sheriff’s office took the incident “tremendously seriously.”
“We are the enforcement arm of the court, and we will not allow anyone to assault or intimidate any of the judiciary officers here,” Tapp-Harper said.
The office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, which usually prosecutes assaults in the city, referred the case to Steve Kroll, the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Coordinator, to avoid any conflict of interest, as an assistant state’s attorney in Mosby’s office was a witness to the events.
Kroll confirmed Wednesday he had been “assigned this case” by Mosby , but otherwise declined to comment.