UPDATE: Padgett back in jail after cutting off GPS monitor durin - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Padgett back in jail after cutting off GPS monitor during murder trial

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE:  A convicted murderer, on the run for more than two weeks, is now back in jail.
    
Christopher Padgett, 22, cut off his GPS ankle monitor during his murder trial and law enforcement has been trying to find him ever since.

His escape revealed the Hamilton County Corrections Department doesn't monitor ankle monitors overnight or on weekends.

More than two weeks after his escape, Padgett was found at a home on South Street, just five miles away from the home where he escaped.

"It takes money to get out of town, it takes vehicles to get out of town and it appears he didn't have the means or connections to get out of town," said Fugitive Sgt. Steve Campbell.

Padgett is smiling in his latest mugshot. It's now time for him to serve a life sentence in prison, a jury decided after convicting him of first degree murder.

Sgt. Steve Campbell, with Chattanooga Police's Fugitive Division, said it's believed Padgett never left town.

He was found at a friend's house off Shallowford Road on South Street.

"He was inside the residence, hiding underneath a mattress," Sgt. Campbell said, "And he was with another known gang member."

Padgett was found with Javonte Wynn, 21. Wynn also went to jail on outstanding warrants for evading arrest and unlawful possession of a firearm.

"That individual was one of the leads they had very early on," said Attorney Bill Speek, "Key Bonding had been to that individuals house on a few occasions because they thought maybe he was there."

Padgett's capture means the four bonding companies that put up $350,000 to get Padgett out of jail will not have to pay.

Bill Speek represents Key Bonding.

"Law enforcement was immediately on top of trying to track him, the bonding agents were immediately on top of trying to track him, they developed several leads," Speek said.

Police said  it was a team effort between The Smokey Mountain Fugitive Task Force that is comprised of the; US Marshals, Chattanooga Police Department Fugitive Unit, Catoosa County Sheriff's Department, TBI, and Hamilton County Fugitive Unit.

Channel 3 is told Padgett is not facing any additional charges at this time but he's still due back in court on Dec. 15th for his previous convictions of first degree murder and aggravated robbery.


PREVIOUS STORY: As a convicted killer remains on the loose, a juror from the Hamilton County case is revealing the reason behind the verdict.

Police said 22-year-old Christopher Padgett cut off his GPS monitoring system during his murder trial. He took off on Wednesday.

A juror who wished to remain anonymous said strong evidence from prosecutors is why Padgett was found guilty.

Padgett was convicted of first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery.

"I think we would have all reached the same decision had he been sitting in the courtroom," the juror said.

He was accused of shooting cab driver Nathan Deere in 2012. Police said he ran away and cut off his GPS monitoring system in the middle of his trial.

"It did not look good. However, it was not a determining factor," the juror said.

The juror said prosecutors had a compelling case and that's why the jury found Padgett guilty.

"The strongest evidence were his phone calls and his interrogation, his attempts to cover up his day's events," the juror said.

When Padgett didn't show up for court, the judge decided to move forward with the trial anyway. His attorney wanted the judge to grant a mistrial.

"He wasn't just running scared because he thought we would reach a guilty verdict. He was running scared because he knew we would reach a guilty verdict," the juror said.

Padgett taking off was at the top of the jury's mind, but the juror said it all came down to evidence when considering whether to convict Padgett or not.

"I hope they find him and they put him where he needs to be so he does not cost someone else their life," the juror said.

Padgett was sentenced to life in prison.

He is on the TBI's Top 10 most wanted list. If you know where he might be, call police.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have added convicted murder suspect, Christopher Padgett to their Top 10 Most Wanted list. 

The fugitive who cut off his GPS monitoring system during his murder trial is still on the run Friday evening. That didn't stop a jury from finding him guilty of First Degree Murder and Aggravated Robbery. Christopher Padgett will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the 20-12 murder of cab driver Nathan Deere.

Friday morning the prosecutors informed the jury why Christopher Padgett has been missing from court for the past two days. His defense attorney said he ran because he is scared. The state argued it is because he is guilty.

Emotions ran high in the courtroom as the verdict was read. Twenty two year old Christopher Padgett: guilty of First Degree Murder and Especially Aggravated Robbery. “Anxiety, a lot of anger, really restlessness, sleepless nights. Waiting a long time for this,” said Nathan Deere’s mother Truveda Deere.

Padgett's seat was empty for the second day as closing arguments were presented to the jury. The state said it’s clear he is running for a reason. “He ran away because he knows he is guilty. He knows what he did. He is not here,” said Cameron Williams a violent crimes prosecutor with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office.

Padgett's attorney Meredith Ziebold has a different view. She told the jury he ran because he is scared. “Doesn't mean Chris Padgett robbed Mr. Deere, doesn't mean he shot Mr. Deere, or took Mr. Deere's life. It doesn't mean that, it can't mean that, and that is not proof behind a reasonable doubt,” said the defense.

The victim's family said Padgett is a coward, and they never expected him to show up the first day. Their attorney said Padgett's no-show is something he's never seen before. “Never been involved in a trial before where a suspect has left in the middle of trial. Left a first impression on me,” said Williams.

The victim's mother hopes she will soon hear that Padgett has been apprehended by police. She said she is thankful he won't have the chance to destroy someone else's family. “We still do not have Nathan but to have that verdict for life, that is good for us, good for me,” said Deere.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before they reached their agreement.

Channel 3 asked county officials how Padgett was able to remove his monitoring system, and flee before the authorities could stop him. They directed us to the company that makes the device. That company has not returned our calls.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Christopher Padgett, contact the police.


UPDATE: A jury convicted Christopher Padgett of first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery during the fourth day of his trial. He remained a no-show as the verdict was read after cutting his GPS monitor and taking off Wednesday night.

Padgett was sentenced to life in prison for murder. The judge set a hearing date of Dec. 15 for the aggravated robbery charge.

PREVIOUS:  Christopher Padgett is a no-show on the fourth day of his trial.  He disappeared Wednesday night after cutting off his GPS monitor.  

Channel 3 Eyewitness reporter Kate Smith is in court following the trial.

You can follow her on Twitter at @KateWRCB


PREVIOUS: A Chattanooga murder suspect removed his GPS monitor and was a no-show on the third day of his trial.

Police said 22-year-old Christopher Padgett used a pair of scissors to cut off his ankle monitor Wednesday night, and he is still on the run.

Padgett is accused of shooting cab driver Nathan Deere in 2012.

He suddenly made a $350,000 bond late last week and was released from jail. Setting bond is at the discretion of the judge, and he did not have a record when he was arrested at age 18.

Even though Padgett ditched his trial, it doesn't mean he will avoid a conviction.
 
"It's damning to defend an empty chair," said veteran trial attorney Robin Flores.

While a defendant's absence from trial is not unheard of, Flores said most cases result in convictions.

"When that person leaves, the defense counsel is dealing with a spector. And that spector is someone charged with murder," Flores said.

Padgett's attorneys asked Judge Tom Greenholtz to grant a mistrial, but Greenholtz denied their motion. The trial will move forward, whether Padgett is there for it or not.

"The question that's going to be in that jury's mind is, What's happened? Has this guy fled?" said Flores.

Padgett's trial resumes Friday morning.


PREVIOUS STORY: A Chattanooga man on trial for murder is no where to be found. 

Sometime during the night Wednesday, Christopher Christian Padgett, 22, cut off his GPS monitor and fled the area. 

According to our crew at the courthouse this morning, it was discovered when he didn't show up for the third day of his trial.

READ MORE| Charges upgraded for suspect who killed cab driver

Judge Greenholtz decided to continue with the trial despite Padgett's absence.

READ MORE | Cab driver shot on Ocoee Street dies at hospital

Padgett is on trial for the shooting death of Nathan Deere in 2012.

READ MORE| Cab driver clinging to life following Ocoee Street shooting

He is charged with felony murder, first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, and possession of a deadly weapon.

According to the city court clerk, Padgett's bond was set at $310,000 in 2012. Records show Padgett was bailed out of jail through the use of four bonding companies.

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