From staff reports

CARTHAGE, Mo. - A Joplin man who was convicted on a felony charge of driving while intoxicated cut his arm in his holding cell after being sentenced to prison, authorities said.

Billy D. Tate, 47, was sentenced Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court to four years in prison for the offense.

He was taken into custody by the court bailiff, searched by a sheriff's deputy and then placed in a holding cell to await transportation to the county jail, according to a statement from the Jasper County Sheriff's Department.

Several minutes afterward, the bailiff was told by a member of Tate's family that Tate had taken a razor blade to the courtroom with him and concealed it on his person.

When the deputy and bailiff went to Tate's holding cell, they reportedly found him sitting on the floor and bleeding from cuts he had made on his left arm with a small piece of a razor blade, which was recovered by authorities.

Tate was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and then released back to the Sheriff's Department.

He is incarcerated in the county jail awaiting transportation to the Missouri Department of Corrections. The incident is under investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

Authorities said Tate later admitted to hiding the blade while he was at his home, before he went to court for his sentencing hearing.

Authorities said Tate admitted to cutting himself with the blade after he was taken into custody and placed in the holding cell.

Tate was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, a Class D felony, according to court records.

Tate has at least two previous alcohol convictions, court records show, and he still faces another charge of persistent offender DWI. A sentencing hearing has been set for July 18 in that case.

Courthouse closure

The third floor of the Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage was partially closed while the Sheriff's Department conducted its investigation in the holding cell, the department said.

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