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Judge: Defendant who allegedly slashed attorney during trial to represent himself

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A reputed gang member who allegedly slashed his attorney in the face with a razor he apparently smuggled into a courtroom in his mouth will represent himself for the rest of his trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh found that although attorney William Burgener was willing to continue representing 32-year-old Eduardo Macias, the attorney should be relieved because a conflict existed between him and his client.

Macias, along with co-defendants Geronimo Polina, 35, and Lionel Quinteros, 26 -- all alleged members or associates of the Mexican Mafia prison gang -- are being tried on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges in connection with a July 2010 prison assault.

Burgener was cut shortly before 10:30 a.m. Thursday, as a prosecution rebuttal witness wrapped up his testimony before the jury.

At the time of the attack, a group of about 20 students from Grossmont High School in El Cajon were in the courtroom as part of a class assignment, according to Superior Court spokeswoman Karen Dalton.

After telling Macias Friday that he would be representing himself, the judge questioned jurors if they could remain fair and impartial considering the attack they witnessed on Burgener.

He ordered the jury to return Wednesday morning for closing arguments.

The Court Services Investigation Unit was working to determine how Macias could have gotten the makeshift weapon into the courthouse.

All inmates are searched prior to leaving jail for court appearances, according to sheriff's officials. Unless they require additional metal restraints due to heightened security concerns, all inmates pass through a metal detector as they are being escorted to judicial proceedings.

Additionally, personnel with the sheriff's Courts Services Bureau conduct additional searches, such as full pat-downs.

Generally, deputies bring five to 10 inmates to court at a time via a transfer corridor. High-security inmates are escorted individually by at least two deputies.

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