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DA says suspect stabbed lawyer in Dedham court

A former Boston man stabbed his lawyer in the face and chest with a makeshift knife yesterday, disrupting jury selection in his rape trial in Dedham, the Norfolk district attorney's office said.

Security had already been beefed up because of the suspect's history, and it took nine court and security officers to subdue Che Sosa, 37.

Michael Connolly, a spokesman for District Attorney William R. Keating, said Sosa attacked John Courtney with a 5-to-6-inch plexiglass knife about 3:15 p.m. in Norfolk Superior Court. Connolly said the attack, which abruptly stopped Sosa's trial for rape in a 2001 case, was apparently unprovoked.

"There were heightened security measures," Connolly said. "The trial court had additional officers on staff. We had a knowledge of some history" of violence.

As a security measure, the courtroom configuration had been changed, and Sosa was sitting with Courtney when he was attacked, Connolly said.

The attack occurred while Assistant District Attorney Jeanmarie Carroll, Judge Charles Grabau, and Courtney were questioning a potential juror. The jurors were being brought into the trial room to be interviewed individually as part of the security measures, Connolly said. One of them witnessed the attack, officials said.

Sosa was eventually subdued and taken back to MCI-Cedar Junction, Connolly said. Sosa was in leg irons while in court.

Courtney was treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and released.

Sosa had been indicted in a 2001 break-in at a Quincy home and was facing charges that include nine counts of aggravated rape. He also is being prosecuted in separate cases in Suffolk and Middlesex counties.

Last week, Courtney asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss the charges in the 2001 case or to delay the trial because of problems with DNA evidence at the State Police crime lab.

Officials yesterday were trying to determine how Sosa was able to bring a weapon into court. The attack is being investigated by State Police attached to the district attorney's office.

A hearing was to be held tomorrow in superior court to determine how the trial will proceed.

Globe correspondent Daniel Muse contributed to this report.

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