An Arkansas man is accused of catching a ride home with a juror during his attempted murder trial and then fleeing the courthouse during juror deliberations before he could be sentenced for his crimes.
It took jurors just 40 minutes to convict Madriekus Blakes, 32, of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and four counts of committing a terroristic act after shooting at two men in a West Memphis convenience store parking lot in September 2018 — however, by the time the jury had reached the verdict, Blakes had fled on foot from the courthouse, according to a statement from Scott Ellington, the Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney.
Ellington said last Tuesday, as Crittenden County Circuit Court jurors were dismissed for the evening after arguments in the case had wrapped up, Blakes was seen leaving the courthouse in an orange Camaro. On Wednesday, the same Camaro was seen returning to the lot being driven by a juror in his trial.
Circuit Judge John Fogleman questioned the juror, who admitted he had given Blakes a ride home the previous day.
He told the judge the two “did not talk about the case,” during the drive, however, the juror was replaced by an alternate.
Then, as deliberations began, Blakes was seen leaving the courthouse on foot and walking along East Military Road. West Memphis Police said Blakes was allowed to move freely because he was out on bond in the case and was not in custody at the time he fled, according to local station WREG.
The jury later found Blakes guilty of the charges against him.
Blakes was accused of firing four shots at a man and his father while they were sitting in a parked truck at a convenience store, according to the statement. The 32-year-old had reportedly been arguing with the man over money he believed the man owed him when he began firing into the vehicle.
Jurors have recommended that Blakes receive 20 years in prison for each count of attempted murder and a $5,000 fine for the remaining counts against him.
The judge is expected to deliver Blakes' sentence once he is captured by authorities.
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