Mother of Murder Suspect Killed After Attacking Judge Says She Warned Sherriff's Department

The mother of a man fatally shot after he attacked a judge during his own murder trial said she had warned authorities two weeks earlier that her son was mentally unstable and may have had a weapon.

Debra Paradiso told The Stockton Record outside the courthouse following Wednesday's incident that her son, David, was mentally ill and frustrated, and never should have been allowed to take the witness stand.

The 28-year-old was fatally shot by a Lodi police detective Wednesday when he left the stand and began attacking San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Cinda Fox.

"I think he was having a breakdown," Debra Paradiso said. "I could see it in his eyes."

She said she called the sheriff's department two weeks ago to warn them that he had a weapon. After his cell was searched and nothing found, the department dismissed her concerns that her son was acting unstable, Paradiso said.

The sheriff's department declined to comment immediately on Paradiso's claims but said they would issue a statement later Thursday.

David Paradiso took the witness stand around 2 p.m. Wednesday and was quickly asked by prosecutors why he killed his girlfriend, Eileen Pelt.

He responded: "Cause she deserved to die."

Debra Paradiso stood up and started yelling that her son should not have been on the stand, leading the judge to call a recess. As jurors filed out, David Paradiso left the stand and approached the judge from behind "with an unknown cutting instrument," said Dave Konecny, a spokesman for the sheriff's department.

Karen McConnell, a county spokeswoman, said witnesses reported seeing Paradiso lift the judge and begin punching and possibly stabbing her. Lodi police Detective Eric Bradley shot Paradiso and has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated, city spokesman Jeff Hood said.

Fox, who had a bandage on her left arm as she was carried out of the courthouse on a stretcher, was taken to a hospital and released later Wednesday.

Konecny said he did not know how Paradiso obtained a weapon. He said at least two bailiffs were on duty in the courtroom at the time of the attack.

Debra Paradiso said she believed her son may have attacked the judge knowing he would be shot.

"I'm pretty sure that's what David wanted," she told the Record.

Paradiso was on trial for allegedly stabbing Pelt in the neck as his mother drove them in her car. Debra Paradiso told police that her son had forced her to drive to Amador County, where he dumped Pelt's body.

Paradiso's attorney, Charles Pacheco, said in opening statements last week that his client was high on methamphetamine at the time.