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Cussing in court? Contempt

Marshall Vaughan stood quietly Wednesday as County Judge Gary Graham read the verdict: two years in the Citrus County Jail for nine counts of violating probation.

Vaughan, 18, lifted his head and stared at Graham.

"You're a dirty bastard, your honor," Vaughan said, his voice low.

He went on to call Graham a "dirty son of a bitch," a "fu----- judge," and use at least a dozen more foul references.

"You just lit this Cracker's ass good," Vaughan said, adding that if he was going to be held in contempt of court, he was going to say what was on his mind.

Graham calmly listened. Then, as Vaughan had predicted, the judge convened a contempt of court hearing.

Graham sentenced Vaughan to five months, 15 days in jail for his outburst _ a sentence that he will serve after the other sentences have run out.

"Fu-- you," Vaughan screamed as officers led him from the courtroom. "You sorry mother fu----."

Vaughan became the 15th man Graham has held in contempt during his five years on the bench. Many of the other people used some foul language, but Vaughan's litany of cuss words was said to be the worst by far.

The outburst came as a surprise. Vaughan had calmly answered Graham's questions during the hearing and showed no signs of hostility toward Graham.

Vaughan, who is from Homosassa, came to court for sentencing on charges that he violated probation, court records show.

Graham previously had imposed probation for four counts of criminal mischief, three counts of petty theft and one count of solicitation to commit battery, record show. The nature of the ninth case was not available.

But in November, Vaughan joined several other young men on a burglary and vandalism spree, authorities alleged. He was arrested and charged with 17 new offenses, the court records show.

In January, Circuit Judge John Thurman sentenced Vaughan to six years' prison and four years' probation for those offenses, court records show.

Vaughan's troubles didn't end there. The new law violations also constituted a violation of probation. That sent him back to Graham's court.

During the sentencing hearing, Graham considered Vaughan's criminal record and his state prison sentence. He imposed eight 45-day sentences, and one sentence of 11 months and 15 days _ all to run consecutively after Vaughan finished serving his time in state prison.

Apparently, that was enough to make Vaughan snap.

People in the courtroom gasped as Vaughan spewed the profanity, but the judge barely flinched.

"Get shackles and gag him," Graham instructed the Citrus County corrections officers in the courtroom. Vaughan calmed down, though, and the restraints were not necessary.

"You want to stop talking like that?" Graham asked.

"Do what you want to do," Vaughan said, referring to a possible contempt citation.

Graham started the hearing and told Assistant Public Defender Claire Molchan to represent Vaughan.

"I'm guilty, your honor. I'll admit I'm guilty," Vaughan said.

With that established, Graham asked whether Vaughan had anything to say before sentencing. Vaughan conferred with Molchan.

"I'm sorry," Vaughan said in a meek voice. "I'm upset. I miss my family and everything." He said Thurman's sentence, combined with the one he just received, simply overwhelmed him.

Graham accepted the apology, then levied the sentence.

"You bastard," Vaughan said as he was being led from the courtroom. He then shouted more profanities and, for the first time that day, started screaming.

Graham could have convened a second contempt hearing and cited Vaughan once again. That's what happened to William Fite, who in October was sentenced to a year in jail after he said "hell" in court and later said that he wanted a "fu-----" lawyer as he was being led out of the courtroom.

After being put in a holding cell outside the courtroom, Vaughan kicked five holes in the wall. Corrections officers shackled his legs and took him across the street to the jail.

The courtroom outburst Wednesday was not the first forVaughan, officials said.

About a year ago, while in Thurman's courtroom for a juvenile court hearing, Vaughan cut his wrist and threatened to cut his own throat, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Bailiff Tony Domino talked to Vaughan and persuaded him to give up the knife.

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