Sometime in the night, a 22-year-old man used a pair of scissors to cut his GPS monitor and flee the area, witnesses said today on the third morning of his Hamilton County murder trial.
Christopher Padgett was facing charges related to the 2012 murder of a cab driver. Prosecutors say he that he called Nathan Deere to 1643 Ocoee Street, got into his cab, and shot him in the back of the head before fleeing with his fares. Padgett was 18 at the time of his alleged crime.
After two days of evidence, prosecutors finished their case Wednesday. This morning, the defense was scheduled to counter. But around 9 a.m., the 22-year-old was nowhere in view.
"Mr. Padgett, are you in the courtroom?" Judge Tom Greenholtz asked.
There was no answer.
Without saying what happened, Greenholtz told jurors to return at 1 p.m. because an issue had cropped up.
Then, without jurors present, Greenholtz asked attorneys to hold a hearing on the matter.
Because Padgett had fled, Greenholtz said, attorneys had two options: Continue without him or call a mistrial.
Chris Jackson, who supervises community probation officers, said he received a text message from a partner company that someone had tampered with the GPS monitoring device around 1:43 a.m.
Padgett, who has faced murder and robbery charges for more than four years, made bond in 2015. But when he violated his conditions, authorities put him back in jail on a $350,000 bond, which he made Friday.
Jackson said he called Padgett's mother at 6:08, 6:12, and 6:14 a.m. She called back at 6:31 a.m.
Dexter Higgins, of Key Bonding, said he went to Padgett's mother's home, where he was staying. He interviewed family members and saw the GPS device in the corner of loveseat, vibrating and on low battery.
Around 11:30 a.m., Greenholtz ended the hearing, saying they would return around noon, when Padgett's mother predicted she would make it to court. Witnesses said she didn't want to leave her home while police continued to search her apartment complex in the Bonny Oaks area.
Greenholtz said the trial will continue with or without Padgett tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.
Stay with the Times Free Press for more on this developing story.