An inmate was removed from a Benton County courtroom Thursday after he threatened attorneys less than six minutes after a hearing started.
Two weeks earlier, Brandon L. VanWinkle allegedly assaulted another inmate when they were in a Benton County courtroom.
VanWinkle wore only handcuffs then. Thursday, he was brought into the courtroom in leg shackles and with his hands attached to a chain around his waist. No other inmates were in the room.
VanWinkle, who is charged with meth possession, has repeatedly claimed that he is Jesus Christ and can do whatever he wants because it is his world.
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The Thursday hearing started with VanWinkle’s defense attorney asking to be removed from the case.
Mr. VanWinkle has threatened to kill me.
Alexandria Sheridan, defense attorney
“Mr. VanWinkle has threatened to kill me,” said attorney Alexandria Sheridan.
Judge Alex Ekstrom agreed to appoint a new attorney and denied VanWinkle’s request to allow the inmate to serve as a second attorney on the case. Representation will be discussed again at the next hearing.
Deputy prosecutor Kristin McRoberts said the next hearing should have the same configuration as Thursday’s hearing, with VanWinkle remaining by himself in the jury box, surrounded by court officials, rather than joining his attorney at a table in front of the judge.
“That’s where you are going to be in a few months,” VanWinkle said. “You don’t know who the f--- I am, girl.”
8 felony convictions on Brandon VanWinkle’s record
Ekstrom immediately ordered him removed from the courtroom.
McRoberts told the judge that was the second time he had threatened her Thursday.
She said that when officers brought VanWinkle into the courtroom before the hearing started, he told officers “You can’t protect her. You can’t protect them,” referring to McRoberts and Sheridan.
The judge said he would address contempt of court with VanWinkle.
On Dec. 17, VanWinkle also was brought into the courtroom as the only prisoner in the jury box for his hearing.
However, he listened as another defendant was sentenced for assaulting the 3-year-old daughter of his girlfriend. Ekstrom sentenced the child abuser to jail, which meant he had to sit in the jury box with VanWinkle until a court officer could take him there.
A psychologist with Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake testified that VanVinkle had no mental disease or defect.
VanWinkle allegedly lunged at the other prisoner in the jury box and struck him at least once, yelling “Welcome to the Lord’s house, b----.”
VanWinkle has eight felony convictions on his criminal record.
Most recently, he served a three-year, seven-month prison term for spitting on the arm, face and head of a corrections officer in the Benton County jail. He was mad about being moved to a different cell for damaging jail property and spitting and throwing urine on other inmates.
In a pretrial hearing for an earlier case, a psychologist with Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake testified that VanVinkle had no mental disease or defect, but he did have antisocial personality disorder with narcissistic traits, according to court documents.