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Smuggled razor cuts on security

After former Ironton businessman Garry Castle cut his wrists in a courtroom, local officials are investigating how Castle got a razor blade past security checkpoints at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

Courthouse sources, who wish to remain anonymous, have said that Castle got the razor blade past security checkpoints by placing it in his cellular phone's battery compartment. Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Walton said the courthouse security conducted an investigation and knows how Castle did this, but declined to comment on the investigation's findings.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier said his office has not received the investigation's report at this time. Once he receives that report, he will determine whether or not to file charges against Castle for the incident.

Castle was sentenced to 18 months in prison Thursday and fined $5,000, the maximum term and fine, by visiting Judge Fred W. Crow III of Meigs County. This sentence came after Castle pleaded guilty to arson on May 21 for burning his South Third Street business, The Shake Shoppe, on March 28, 2002. In June 2002, Castle admitted to setting the fire, first to his attorney, then to authorities. A February trial for an aggravated arson charge ended in a hung jury. In exchange for his guilty plea, that charge along with fraud and criminal damaging charges for which he was later indicted, were dropped. The sentence was executed at the time of its delivery.

After Collier and some spectators had exited the courtroom, Castle cut both wrists with the razor blade. In police custody and under guard, he was transported to Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, where he was treated and released.

When he was released from the hospital, Castle was transported to the Lawrence County Jail, where he was placed under suicide watch. As of Friday afternoon, Castle was still under this watch.

Castle will remain in jail until he is transported to prison, but the possibility exists for him to be sent to a psychiatric facility after the courtroom incident, Collier said Thursday.

Jack Dennin, chief constable at the Lawrence County Courthouse said Thursday that Castle was thoroughly scanned when he entered the courthouse. Shortly after the incident, Dennin said he will contact the security equipment's manufacturer to find out how this could have happened.

The security equipment at the courthouse consists of Garrett Metal Detectors, which were purchased from the Security Defense Systems company on Dec. 15, 1996, according to information from the Court of Common Pleas.

Walton said Thursday that the security equipment was working as it should have been, and the security at Lawrence County Courthouse is as good, if not better than what it is at the Ohio State Supreme Court. However, not all security systems are foolproof, he said. As far as how security will be in the future, Walton said the courthouse will not have any "knee-jerk" reactions at this time.

Lawrence County Commission President George Patterson, who has been a regular at the courthouse for 19 years, said he is not worried about security at the courthouse and was not even concerned about it even before the metal detectors eventually arrived. The Castle incident, he said, is the most serious incident at the courthouse that he knows of.

The only other courthouse incident that comes to Patterson's mind was a man coming to the treasurer's office with a 5-gallon bucket of pennies to use to pay his taxes, Patterson said. The man dumped the pennies on a treasurer's office employee's desk and used vulgar language, Patterson said.