TAMPA — Last spring, accused of killing his ex-girlfriend's baby, Richard McTear Jr. yelled out that he still loved her as he was being led out of court.
In court Friday, 22-year-old McTear raised a ruckus again. This time, his words were directed toward a prosecutor and drew the ire of the presiding judge.
The exchange took place during a hearing about whether McTear's prior acts of violence can be used by the state to prove he is guilty of first-degree murder and related felonies.
Authorities say McTear attacked his former girlfriend, 17-year-old Jasmine Bedwell, and her 3-month-old son, Emanuel Wesley Murray, on May 5. They say he threw the baby onto the concrete, drove off with the infant and threw him from a car window onto Interstate 275.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Assistant State Attorney Jalal Harb said McTear beat Bedwell during an incident last March. When she ran to a friend's apartment for help, Harb said McTear followed and threatened, "I'll be back."
Harb's words apparently didn't sit well with McTear.
"You weren't there," McTear grumbled.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder stopped the proceedings. He told McTear that, while he had a right to be present for the proceedings, he was not allowed to speak out of turn. Did he understand? the judge asked.
"Sort of, kind of," McTear said.
Holder said further disruptions could prompt him to take action against McTear.
"What would that be?" McTear asked.
The judge told him he might hold him in contempt of court or use duct tape to keep him quiet. Contempt of court could result in jail time, Holder said.
McTear, who is already being held without bail, muttered something about having plenty of time to spare.
"Shut up!" Holder barked, ordering bailiffs to remove McTear from the courtroom.
"You don't respect me!" McTear shouted back.
Holder recessed court briefly so that McTear's attorney could speak with his client and instruct him on proper courtroom behavior. When McTear indicated through his attorney that he would like to return to the courtroom, the judge said he could have one more chance.
"I humbly apologize," McTear said.
"Apology accepted," Holder said. "Thank you."
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.