David Paradiso was reluctant to testify in his own murder trial and appeared as if he "had something on his mind" prior to attacking a judge and being shot to death by a detective Wednesday in a Stockton court, his defense attorney said Thursday.
Attorney Chuck Pacheco said Paradiso may have smuggled the weapon he used to attack Judge Cinda Fox into court inside of a knee brace.
Pacheco said he was always cautious around his client, but added that Paradiso had not caused any trouble as the case moved forward.
"I was always guarded with him," Pacheco told KCRA 3. "I always watched him. Yeah, he was capable of doing something like that, but he remained calm. He was calm throughout the entire trial, didn't move."
But Pacheco said something was different after a court break on Wednesday.
"He just looked different ... like he had something on his mind," Pacheco said. "And he just didn't want to get up on that stand. However, after explaining to him the result of his testimony, he then decided, 'OK, I'll get up there.' That's when he took the witness stand, made a couple of derogatory comments regarding the victim in this case, and then that's when pandemonium broke out in the courtroom."
The attack came shortly after Paradiso was asked by prosecutors why he had killed his girlfriend.
A San Joaquin Sheriff's Department spokesman said Paradiso responded, "'Cause she deserved to die."
At that point, Paradiso's mother then stood up and started yelling.
This prompted Fox to call a recess. Authorities said that is when Paradiso attacked.
Pacheco said he saw Paradiso jump on the judge and start to stab her in the neck.
"And then, a police officer came from my left, reached over my shoulder area, and put a gun against Paradiso's chest, and fired," Pacheco recalled.
Pacheco added that he feels he may have been Paradiso's original target. He said Paradiso was unhappy about how the case was going and had tried to fire him.
Fox, who had a bandage on her left arm as she was carried out of the courthouse on a gurney, told reporters, "I'm OK," before being taken to St. Joseph's Medical Center for treatment. Fox was later released.
Paradiso was on trial for the fatal stabbing his girlfriend, Eileen Pelt.
Paradiso's family members said they earlier warned law enforcement officials that Paradiso had a weapon.