A convicted murderer attacked Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater inside the courtroom Monday at the close of trial, and the two men fell fighting to the floor at the feet of the victim's mother.
Prater, a former police officer, was punched in the face. He then pushed Emanuel D. “E Man” Mitchell toward a wooden rail that splits the courtroom in two. They fell through a swinging gate, their upper bodies landing inside the spectators' section.
Sheriff's deputies rushed over to subdue and handcuff Mitchell. Horrified jurors and spectators rushed out courtroom doors.
Jurors earlier Monday found Mitchell, 33, and Anthony D. “Black” Morrison, 44, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a 16-year-old accomplice during a 2009 robbery at Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City.
Jurors decided the cousins should spend life in prison for murder.
Jurors also found Morrison and Mitchell guilty of conspiracy to commit an armed robbery. Jurors found Mitchell guilty of driving a stolen car.
Jurors were back in court to hear more evidence when Prater was attacked. The district attorney had just finished his closing argument about what punishment to give the men on the conspiracy conviction and what to give Mitchell on the stolen car conviction.
He was walking back to his seat when Mitchell rushed him from about six feet away.
Prater bled from a cut on his nose. He also suffered a scratch on his cheek and an abrasion on his jaw. Mitchell on Monday night was taken from jail to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder.
“I got blindsided by Emanuel Mitchell,” Prater told reporters later. “I just saw a fist coming out of the ... left corner of my eye. And he nailed me in the side of the face. … I pushed him over backwards into the rail. ... All I knew was I needed to get him on his back. ... He just nailed me the one time, the cheap shot.
“That's just the kind of a guy he is. Obviously, if you're willing to send two kids into a pharmacy to do your dirty work ... he doesn't matter. He's a coward,” Prater said.
Morrison stayed seated at a defense table. He later apologized to Prater for his cousin's actions.
Jay Trenary, Mitchell's court-appointed attorney, grabbed a widescreen TV during the disturbance and kept it from falling on top of the prosecutor.
Mitchell and Morrison both have been convicted before of robbery and other crimes and have spent years in prison. They were living in Oklahoma City at the time of the May 19, 2009, robbery.
Jurors were allowed to deliberate punishment on the conspiracy conviction and stolen car conviction even though they saw the assault. They gave Morrison 30 years in prison and Mitchell 35 years for the conspiracy. Jurors gave Mitchell 10 years for the stolen car.