Defendant flees attempted murder trial during lunch break | The Wilson Times
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Defendant flees attempted murder trial during lunch break

Posted on April 15, 2021

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olivia@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7879

Bridgers

Bridgers

A felon on trial for attempted murder in a 2019 shooting left the Wilson County Courthouse during a lunch break Tuesday and never returned.

Authorities are searching for 31-year-old Deonta Earl Bridgers, who jurors convicted in absentia Wednesday after he fled his trial, officials said.

Prior to his court proceedings, Bridgers was on house arrest without any additional restrictions, according to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

A house arrest deputy received a tampering alert from Bridgers’ electronic monitoring device at 1:52 p.m. Tuesday when he failed to return to court from lunch, said Wanda Samuel, sheriff’s office chief of staff.

Deputies began searching for Bridgers and found his monitoring device at a dilapidated house in the 500 block of Oak Street, Samuel said.

“The strap on the monitoring device had been cut off and left at this location,” she 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.

GUILTY VERDICT

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

Antonio A. Harris of Wilson was treated for life-threatening injuries at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, police previously said. The other victim, Jetta B. Diggins, suffered a gunshot wound to her arm and was also treated at the Greenville hospital.

BOND AND HOUSE ARREST

Wilson police arrested Bridgers in March 2019 on two counts of attempted murder and one count each of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injuries and discharging a weapon into an occupied dwelling or motor vehicle. Bridgers was jailed under a $1 million secured bond.

About six months later, Bridgers was placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring, Samuel said.

Bridgers lived at 506 Pickett St. at the time and was subject to a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfeew.

“During the time he was placed on electronic monitoring, he did not receive any curfew violations,” Samuel said.

Once Bridgers is found, Samuel said he’ll be sentenced on the Wednesday convictions.

Anyone with information on Bridgers’ whereabouts is asked to call the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 252-237-2118, the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 252-243-2255.

Bridgers spent more than five years in prison for a 2010 armed robbery conviction in Edgecombe County, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety website. Records show he also was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

GUILTY BUT GONE

A similar escape happened in November 2015 when Wilson gang leader Devon Shamark Crooms vanished during a lunch break near the end of his high-profile trial.

Released on a $50,000 secured bond, Crooms was on house arrest and wore an electronic ankle bracelet. The jury had recessed for lunch and Crooms was slated to be back in court for closing arguments.

Authorities received a notification that Crooms tampered with the monitoring device. Officials later found Crooms’ ankle bracelet, which had been cut off, in the area of Woodard Street and Whitehead Avenue.

Crooms’ trial continued im his absence, and a jury convicted him on several charges in connection to the 2011 shooting deaths of 20-year-old Shikia Hall and 19-year-old Sha’Diamond Littleton.

He was eventually captured in Florida after 7 months on the lam.

Crooms was initially jailed under a $1 million secured bond. A judge reduced the bond amount to $150,000 in October 2013. In March 2014, he received another modification that reduced his bond to $50,000.

Conditions of Crooms’ pretrial release included house arrest with electronic monitoring. He was only allowed to visit his attorney’s office and the courthouse by the most direct route. 

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