Joseph Brant

A booking photograph of Joseph Brant, who New Orleans authorities say has confessed to killing a series of young women in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (OPSO)

A court hearing for an accused New Orleans serial killer once again skidded off the rails Thursday as he shouted at a judge.

Joseph Brant, who is awaiting trial for the killing of three women in 2007 and 2008, started yelling as soon as he was brought into the courtroom of Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman.

"I need to go to a hospital. I need to go to a (expletive) hospital," Brant shouted in the middle of another defendant’s arraignment.

Pittman immediately ordered a deputy to remove him from the courtroom. She dismissed the outburst as a "show" and said she is prepared to have Brant "quieted" at his next hearing.

The angry display, which echoed incidents at previous hearings, is the most recent sign that an arrangement for Brant to plead guilty may have fallen apart.

Prosecutors said Brant, 49, had confessed and they expected him to plead guilty when he was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder in February.

Investigators believe Brant killed an unidentified woman, probably a prostitute, in October 2007; Georgia native Jody Johnson in January 2008; and San Francisco-based activist Kirsten Brydum in September 2008.

In 2016, he pleaded guilty to the August 2008 killing of botanist Jessica Hawk in her Bywater home, receiving a life sentence.

Prosecutors said Brant admitted to the three killings that remain pending in court in an interview last year at a Texas prison, where he was serving time on an unrelated burglary charge.

“Only the murderer would have been able to provide certain facts and circumstances that were present in the police report,” Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said.

Brant offered the information in exchange for an agreement that he would not face the death penalty, prosecutors said.

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Robin Pittman

Robin Pittman

Before Brant pleaded guilty to killing Hawk, his attorneys at one point raised questions about his mental competency. Pittman, who also oversaw that case, ultimately ruled that he was able to stand trial, however.

On Thursday, Pittman derided Brant’s courtroom eruption.

“You know, he puts on a show every time he gets to the door. ... I find it hilarious,” she said.

Pittman said she would ask the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office to take precautions ahead of Brant’s next scheduled court hearing on Jan. 23. She is set to rule then on a package of pretrial motions from Brant's defense attorneys — something that lawyers rarely pursue when they expect their clients to plead guilty.

“I'm going to make arrangements with the Sheriff's Office to be prepared to do whatever I need to do to have this gentleman quieted in court,” Pittman said.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432