Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Courthouse security beefed up after gang brawl

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

The first day of a trial Monday in an alleged gang slaying resulted in at least one arrest after a fight broke out inside the King County Courthouse.

The fisticuffs started after Seattle police showed up at the King County Courthouse to arrest a man wanted on an outstanding warrant. Police knew the suspect would be attending the trial of Omar Ali Norman, who claims to be the founder of Seattle's Low Profile street gang. Norman is on trial for first-degree murder with a firearm.

When police arrested the suspect in a third-floor courthouse hallway, members of a rival gang started heckling him, authorities said. Punches were thrown between rival gang members and additional officers were called to the courthouse.

Reports on the number of people arrested after the brawl have ranged from one to three. The courtroom has been packed with Low Profile members, there to support Norman, and members of the rival Deuce 8 gang.

Paul Sherfy, chief administrative officer for King County Superior Court, said that no building entrances were shut down, but the police presence was noticeable. Sherfy said three additional court security officers have been assigned to Superior Court Judge Regina Cahan's courtroom because of the fight.

Attorneys are still sorting out pre-trial motions in Norman's case. Opening statements in the case are likely to be next week. The trial is slated to last at least a month.

Norman is accused of killing Terrell Milam, 32, on Oct. 17, 2005. Among the evidence that linked Norman to the case through was DNA found on a cigarette butt and a shell casing found near Milam's body, according to court papers. Milam was a head of the Deuce 8 gang, prosecutors said.

On the night before his slaying, Milam reportedly got into a fight with former Seahawks safety Ken Hamlin outside a nightclub. Hamlin was struck with a metal street sign suffered a fractured skull and broken hand that caused him to miss the rest of the 2005 season. Hamlin now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

At the time, Milam was supposed to be under a 9 p.m. curfew in a federal halfway house in Seattle, but he and other detainees were apparently able get out of the house at night by either bribing someone or leaving a dummy in their beds.

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