Courtroom showdown: Murder suspect threatened with ankle cuff that administers shocks

LOUISVILLE, KY. — Brice Rhodes, the man accused of murdering three people in 2016, has been warned by a judge that he will be removed from the courtroom or shocked with an ankle cuff if he causes disturbances during his upcoming trial. Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Julie Kaelin stated on Friday that while she does not anticipate needing to resort to such measures, given Rhodes’ recent behavior, she is prepared to use them if necessary. Rhodes has a history of violent and profane outbursts in court, including threats against judges and accusations of affairs.

Judge Kaelin assured Rhodes that he would be allowed to wear regular clothes during the trial, rather than being shackled, in order to prevent the jury from knowing he was incarcerated. However, if Rhodes does cause disruptions, she stated that she would remove the jury and offer him the choice of remaining in court with an ankle cuff that could be used to shock him or being removed from the courtroom altogether. Rhodes did not respond to the judge’s warning.

The use of stun cuffs has sparked controversy in other states, as excessive or unwarranted shocks have been reported. However, proponents argue that these devices act as a deterrent against violence or escape attempts and that shocks are only administered if the inmate misbehaves. Rhodes’ defense attorneys did not raise objections to using a stun cuff or his potential removal from the courtroom.

Jury selection for Rhodes’ trial is scheduled to commence next week, more than seven years after the alleged murders took place. The victims include Christopher Jones, Larry Ordway, and Maurice Gordon, with Rhodes facing charges of shooting, stabbing, and setting their bodies on fire. Opening statements are expected to begin in the coming days.

Judge Kaelin ruled in April that Rhodes is mentally competent to stand trial. During the competency hearing, psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Allen testified that Rhodes has an anti-social personality disorder, anxiety, and substance issues, as well as a low IQ. The judge has also ruled that Rhodes is ineligible for the death penalty due to his documented history of serious mental illness or intellectual disability. Rhodes, who had previously expressed interest in representing himself, has indicated that he wants to hire new attorneys.