Only on 5: Hear a defendant threaten to kill a judge in court - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Only on 5: Hear a defendant threaten to kill a judge in court

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In fewer than two years in office, Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee has collected tons of horror stories.

"If we could write a book about some of the things that happen in the courtroom, nobody would believe it," Coffee said in an interview Wednesday.

An audio recording from a hearing just this week is a perfect example.  In the recording, defendant Joshua Beadle can be heard shouting.

"I'm gonna kill you, Lee Coffee!  I'm gonna kill you Lee Coffee!" Beadle can be heard shouting, repeatedly threatening the judge.

Beadle, accused of a number of violent crimes, kept shouting even after he was removed from the courtroom.

Coffee, holding Beadle in contempt of court, sentenced him to 10 days in jail per word during the outburst.  He stopped counting at 70 words, resulting in a 700 day sentence.

Beadle was shackled and outfitted in a special hooded spit mask during the hearing, after spitting at Coffee during a hearing in January.  Then, Beadle missed the judge and hit a clerk's computer.

Because of this spitting incident, Beadle is required to wear the special mask during his hearings.

"It does guard against anybody from being spat upon and that's been a problem with this inmate," said Steve Shular of the Shelby Co. Sheriff's Office.

Beadle is an inmate whose behavior is all too common in court.

"It's bizarre from time to time and it's frightening," Coffee said.

Coffee added he rarely takes a threat to heart, but he is concerned about court personnel.  Coffee and other judges are in constant contact with the sheriff's office concerning courtroom security.


Click here to e-mail Jason Miles.

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