An Arkansas man who was facing charges of aggravated assault and felony possession of a firearm walked out of court Monday while a jury was deliberating his case. He was found guilty on both charges and apprehended a day later.
Joey Watts was on trial at the Grant County Courthouse in Sheridan, according to Deputy Prosecutor Norman Frisby, who tried the case. The jury had already convicted Watts on the assault charge when he made a run for it, Frisby said.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Watts was accused of threatening a woman with a shotgun while at his home Nov. 29, 2018, Frisby said.
Surveillance video shows Watts sitting next to his attorney before he gets up and walks out of the courtroom. Watts then walked down the stairs, down a hallway and exits the building. Frisby said Watts' attorney had told him not to leave but he did.
"He was out on bond and had not been convicted so this allowed him to move around," Grant County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Pete Roberts told NBC News. The deputy prosecutor said that a second bailiff was not present to prevent Watts from leaving.
Grants County has one bailiff and is in the process of hiring another, Roberts said.
Watts was apprehended Tuesday evening. Three others were also arrested and charged with a class C felony for their part in assisting him with leaving the courthouse, the sheriff's office said.
The jury sentenced Watts to a total of 36 years in prison, 10 years for the assault charge and 26 years for possession of a firearm, Frisby said.