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Murder defendant charged with attacking jail deputy

An Ashland woman charged with murder and manslaughter in a friend's death faces an additional charge of attacking a sheriff's deputy in the Jackson County Jail.

Leora Rae Seward, 28, locked herself in her cell Tuesday at about 7:05 a.m. when deputies tried to give her some medicine, said sheriff's Lt. Dan Penland. When deputy Deborah Tuss tried to remove Seward from her cell, Seward charged at Tuss and tried to grab her face and hair, Penland said. Tuss was scratched, Penland added.

Seward was arraigned Wednesday on a count of assaulting a public safety officer. Held without bail, she was placed in isolation, according to the jail's standard response to assaults, Penland said.

Seward is charged with the Nov. 30 slaying of 23-year-old Samuel Steven Rath at her Terra Avenue apartment in Ashland. Indicted on charges of murder and first-degree manslaughter, Seward allegedly stabbed Rath with a knife and then called police, investigators said.

Seward's attorney said her client will claim a mental disease or defect as the defense in her July 12 trial. Seward's family said she was released less than a year ago from a state-run mental health facility in Napa County, Calif.

Rath's family said he, too, suffered from mental illness. Rath had lived for the past three years at an adult foster care home in Ashland. He and Seward apparently had become romantically involved, Rath's family said.