Person jumps court railing, sparks melee during Lawrence murder hearing

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - A wild scene unfolded on Monday when a man was charged with murdering his girlfriend in Lawrence.

Court officials rushed into action after the victim’s brother jumped the railing between the gallery and the judge in Lawrence District Court.

The incident happened during the hearing for 32-year-old Tony Ventura, of Lawrence, who is accused of killing his longtime girlfriend Maria Morton, 32, of Lawrence.

The mayhem forced officers to clear the court. The court house went into lockdown, with an unrelated shooting nearby at the same time.

The details of Ventura’s history with Morton were revealed when the hearing resumed. Lawyers said the two had known each other for seven years, but Ventura struggled with mental health and drug problems. Morton took out two previous restraining orders against him, which have since expired.

It all came to a head early Sunday morning when Morton and Ventura got into a fight around 2 a.m. Police said Ventura admitted to strangling Morton and killing her. Family members urged him to turn himself in to police.

Having Ventura behind bars is little consolation for Morton’s family; friends said her two young children are only starting to understand what happened.

Lawyers said Ventura had a probation record that is five pages long. He was held without bail on Monday.

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