A fight erupted in a Lawrence, Massachusetts, courtroom on Monday when the brother of a murder victim attacked the man who admitted to strangling her.
The Boston Globe reports that on Sunday, 32-year-old Tony Ventura turned himself in and admitted that he strangled his girlfriend, Marie Morton, 32, to death, in the Lawrence apartment they shared with two children. On Monday, Ventura appeared in court for his first hearing, while a number of Morton’s family members, including Maria’s brother, Michael Morton, sat in attendance.
As Ventura made his way into the courtroom, tempers flared. While a woman yelled out to Ventura that he was “dead,” Michael Morton got up, jumped over the partition and attorneys’ tables, and made a beeline for Ventura. Just as Michael Morton attempted to attack Ventura, deputies grabbed him and escorted him out of the building. They booked him for disrupting court proceedings and disorderly conduct. He made his $250 bail and was released.
Ventura was sent back to jail without bail. His next scheduled court appearance is a probable cause hearing on February 23. It’s still unclear why Ventura reportedly killed his girlfriend, but the victim’s sister said that she heard the couple arguing loudly on early Sunday morning.
Prior to her death, Marie Morton had already taken two restraining orders out on Ventura. On one of the affadavits, she wrote that she was scared of him and that he physically abused her.
“This is not the first time [he’s] physically abused me. I’m afraid of him.”
Regardless, the couple somehow ended up back together. Police found Marie Morton’s body in their apartment at around 12:35 p.m. on Sunday. Within six hours, Ventura turned himself in.
Meanwhile, loved ones set a GoFundMe fundraiser to help cover expenses for Maria’s two young children.