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October 22, 2014

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Records: Defendant shot in court had vowed to behave

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AP Photo/Utah Department of Corrections

Siale Angilau

Federal Courthouse Shooting

Federal Courthouse employees evacuate as police investigate a shooting inside the Federal Courthouse, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Salt Lake City. The shooting has left at least one person injured, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney said. Launch slideshow »

SALT LAKE CITY — A defendant who was fatally shot by a U.S. marshal while attacking a witness during a federal court trial had promised a judge earlier that he would behave, a court transcript shows.

The vow came at the beginning of the trial on Monday, when an attorney for defendant Siale Angilau asked the judge if she could help get Angilau moved back to his normal cell in Draper.

Lawyer Michael Langford told U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell that Angilau hadn't had a shower, didn't have access to his legal papers and wasn't in "the best of moods," the transcript shows.

Campbell spoke with U.S. marshals and arranged for a possible transfer before asking: "You'll be on your best behavior, right, Mr. Angilau?"

The 25-year-old Angilau responded: "Yeah."

A short time later, while the first witness was testifying about gang recruiting, an unknown person said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," the transcript states.

At that point, "the defendant attacked the witness and the trial was terminated," the document states.

Authorities said Angilau tried to strike witness Vaiola Tenifa — a member of the same gang as Angilau — with a pen before a U.S. marshal fired several shots, hitting Angilau in the chest. He died later at a hospital.

The details of the transcript were first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Angilau was one of 17 people named in a 2010 indictment accusing Tongan Crip members of assault, conspiracy, robbery and weapons offenses. He was the last defendant in the case to stand trial, with previous defendants being sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison.

It was the first trial in the new $185 million courthouse that had opened one week earlier.

About 30 minutes after the shooting, Judge Campbell brought the attorneys back into the courtroom, declared a mistrial and spoke about what had just happened.

"I know this is traumatic for you, and I'm sorry," she said. "This is not the way we wanted to initiate our first trial in our lovely new courthouse, but these things happen. I can just thanks to all the staff personnel who did so well."

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