Pacifica man attacks witness in court

A 22-year-old Pacifica man facing assault charges for allegedly attacking two victims charged the witness stand and again attacked one of the victims in court earlier this week, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

Michael Cereghino was in court in South San Francisco on Monday for a preliminary hearing to determine whether he should stand trial on felony assault charges for attacks on the victims on Oct. 15 in Pacifica, according to the district attorney’s office.

The first victim testified without incident at the hearing, but when the second victim testified, Cereghino suddenly rushed out of his chair toward the witness stand and attacked the victim, punching him the head three or four times, prosecutors said.

A detective in the courtroom subdued Cereghino, but the court bailiff tripped over a cord in the courtroom and injured his knee, prosecutors said.

Cereghino was back in court Wednesday to be arraigned on new charges of intimidating a witness and resisting an officer, both felonies.

His attorney with the Private Defender Program declared a doubt whether he was mentally competent to stand trial so criminal proceedings were suspended and Cereghino was ordered to return to court this morning to begin proceedings to determine his competency, according to the district attorney’s office.

Cereghino was out of custody on $35,000 bail at the time of the courtroom attack Monday but is currently in jail on $150,000 bail, prosecutors said.