Public Defender attacked by murder suspect in court speaks out

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (WPVI) -- It was right where she pointed, Court Room 8 inside the Atlantic County Court House.

On Tuesday morning, public defender Mary Linehan went from fighting for her defendant, to fighting him off.

On Thursday she seemed ok, confident even.

However, she did admit when 6'4, 270 lbs. murder suspect Robert Fountaine tackled her she was scared.

"I feel lucky to be alive. You know I think it all could have played out very, very differently," Linehan said.

Fountaine is accused of fatally stabbing his neighbor.

Before their hearing Tuesday morning, Fountaine told Linehan he didn't want her to represent him.

"I guess he wanted to address it with the court," Linehan said.

When they proceeded Fountaine became agitated.

An audio transcription Action News obtained plays the moments Fountaine asked the judge for a new defender, then attacked Linehan.

Linehan says Fountaine initially threw a bag of his court papers at her.

"I turned my head so it just hit me in the back," Linehan said.

Then, despite having his hands and feet shackled, the murder suspect lunged into her.

According to Linehan, the law enforcement there never let go of him he just happened to drag them along.

"All of a sudden I heard the footsteps and finally I was thrown against a wall and I was at the bottom of a dog pile," Linehan said.

She says her first thought was to survive.

Though the attack only lasted seconds, it was violent enough to partially separate her shoulder.

"I knew I had to keep my head and face covered because I knew I couldn't get out. The officers were on top of him," Linehan said.

As a result, Fountaine has been additionally been charged with simple assault.

We asked Linehan if she thought that was enough.

She said, "I don't have any further comment on that charge."

Despite what's happened she's going back to work Friday.
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