Defendant flees North Carolina courtroom during lunch break

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WILSON, N.C. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a man who fled from his trial in North Carolina for attempted murder, a sheriff’s office said.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office is looking for Deonta Earl Bridgers, 31, who jurors convicted in absentia on Wednesday after he fled, The Wilson Times reported. Prior to his court proceedings, Bridgers was on house arrest without any additional restrictions.

Wanda Samuel, sheriff’s office chief of staff, said a deputy received a tampering alert from Bridgers’ electronic monitoring device on Tuesday when he failed to return to court from lunch. Deputies began searching for Bridgers and found his monitoring device at a dilapidated house, Samuel said.

Samuel said a judge issued a bench warrant for Bridgers’ arrest, and his name was entered into the National Crime Information Center database as a fugitive subject to extradition.

A Wilson County jury on Wednesday convicted Bridgers on charges including two counts of attempted first-degree murder stemming from a February 2019 shooting that left two people injured.

In November 2015, Devon Shamark Crooms vanished during a lunch break in his trial. A jury convicted him in absentia on charges stemming from two shooting deaths in 2011. Crooms was captured in Florida after seven months on the run.

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