Florida robbery suspect walks out of trial while jury deliberates

Police searching for Antonio Jama Gearing

By Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - An armed robbery defendant walked out of his trial just moments before a Florida jury found him guilty.

Federal, state and local authorities are searching for 29-year-old Anthony Gearing, who ditched his trial as the jury deliberated Tuesday. Surveillance video from the Justice Center shows Gearing leaving the courtroom and walking out with a couple of people before getting into a white SUV.

"He was free to walk around until the verdict is rendered, and if he's found guilty, typically they would revoke the bond and take him into custody," said RJ Larizza, state attorney for the 7th Judicial Court.

Larizza said Gearing was out on $75,000 bond and is allowed to roam free as long as he shows up to court dates and does not violate his conditions.

"It's a bit more unique to have it happen right at the very end, but I suspect again because the defendant knew that he was about to be found guilty of some very serious charges," he said.

Gearing faces anywhere from 10 years up to life in prison for armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after authorities said he robbed a Dollar General in Daytona Beach in May 2018. Store surveillance video shows Gearing walking inside and demanding money from both registers before hitting the clerk twice in the head with his gun, according to authorities.

"You have to assume that he's armed, and you know from his history that he's dangerous," Larizza said.

Authorities are not only searching for Gearing but trying to identify his driver. Larizza said he'll be meeting with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood to see if there's anything they could do to prevent this from happening again.

"If there is a way, not infringing upon folks, their constitutional rights while they're awaiting a verdict during a trial, or while they're awaiting trial, for that matter, but simply trying to learn from this episode and see if there is something we can do," Larizza said.

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