Jury convicts man of sexual battery; skips rest of trial

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, September 1, 2018

Freedom didn’t last long for a Warren County man who failed to show up for the final day of his trial.

Justin Chance Harris, 27, on trial for sexual battery, decided not to return to court after lunch and apparently removed his ankle-monitoring device in an attempt to elude authorities.

Harris was arrested in November 2017 and charged with three counts of sexual battery on a child under the age of 14. He was given a bond at his initial appearance and posted bond, but by court order, he was required to wear an ankle-monitoring device.

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On the final day of his trial Wednesday before Circuit Court Judge Jim Chaney, Harris failed to show following lunch, according to Warren County District Attorney Ricky Smith.

Sheriff Martin Pace said his office was notified by the company that monitors the ankle bracelet of an alert indicating it had been removed.

“They informed us they received a tamper alert,” Pace said. The tamper alert emits a GPS signal and deputies recovered the monitor that had been removed and began a search for Harris.

Just after noon Thursday, U.S. Marshals and deputies with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office arrested Harris at the residence of an acquaintance on Jeff Davis Road in southern Warren County. He’s now being held in the Warren County jail without bond.

Four other people at the residence were also arrested on outstanding misdemeanor warrants, according to Pace, and the investigation into whether they knowingly aided Harris is ongoing.

“Past history will show that we will not tolerate anyone who knowingly harbors and they can be presented to the D.A. for prosecution,” Pace said.

While deputies and the U.S. Marshals were searching for Harris, a Warren County jury convicted Harris Thursday on the sexual battery charges. He will have a sentencing date Sept. 13 in circuit court.

According to Smith, each count carries the possibility of a life sentence.