Court Security

Cuffed murder defendant bolts from courthouse, is captured; judge says trial will continue

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Already serving a 54-year federal sentence over prior robberies, Keith Lauchon Jackson apparently felt he had little to lose by bolting Monday afternoon from the North Carolina courthouse where he is being tried on a first-degree murder charge.

After a lunch break, the 24-year-old defendant slipped out of his leg irons as he was being released from a holding cell, ran past the front of the courthouse, still handcuffed, with bailiffs in hot pursuit, leapt from an elevated walkway and raced into a parking garage, according to the News-Record and WXII.

He was captured about 15 minutes later and treated for abrasions and a police dog bite.

Guilford County Superior Court Judge John O. Craig III ended court early, explaining to jurors that there had been a security incident, and had bailiffs escort both jurors and the murder victim’s family back to their vehicles, the News-Record reports.

Craig told lawyers for both sides he hoped no mistrial would be necessary, since it didn’t appear jurors were aware of the incident. Jackson is being tried for the slaying of store clerk Joshua Sweitzer, 21, who was shot to death during a robbery on Halloween night in 2007.

The defendant has previously had issues with his attorneys, the newspaper says. In 2011, court records indicate he cursed at one of his lawyers after he was told to turn around and stop staring at Sweitzer’s mother. Last year, the judge ruled at one point that Jackson would have to represent himself after he was accused of threatening to kill his counsel, but Jackson later lined up new representation.

It is not clear whether Jackson will face new charges as a result of his escape attempt.

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