Local News

Man Found Guilty Of Kidnapping, Castration After Fleeing From Court

Posted July 14, 2004 6:16 a.m. EDT

— Durham police on Wednesday were looking for a man being tried on kidnapping and malicious castration charges who fled from the courthouse Tuesday during a break in his trial.

Robert Duran Johnson was on trial for kidnapping Walter Harris, beating Harris and shooting off Harris' penis on Easter Sunday 2003 in what authorities believe was a gang-related altercation. During an afternoon break in the state's presentation of its case Tuesday, the 25-year-old Johnson fled the Durham courthouse.

On Wednesday, the jury found Johnson guilty in absentia. He faces up to 25 years in prison, and will be sentenced when he's found.

Johnson has been described as 6 feet tall and 170 pounds. Police said he is armed and dangerous.

Prosecutors said there was witness intimidation during the trial. Someone shot at Harris' family's house Monday night while women and children were inside.

As the trial resumed Wednesday without Johnson, an armed deputy guarded the door of Courtroom 5-1. The judge decided who could come and who could go.

The police department put out an all-points bulletin for Johnson, asking all officers to be on the lookout for him.

In his closing argument, Assistant District Attorney John Phillips asked jurors to think about one thing.

"They told him before they did it, they were going to make an example of him for trying to leave the gang," Phillips said of Harris. "So I asked the jury to make an example of Johnson."

While the search continues for Johnson, police plan to provide protection for Harris.

Anyone with any information about Johnson or his whereabouts is urged to call 911 immediately. Durham CrimeStoppers will pay a cash reward for information that leads to Johnson's arrest.

Before his disappearance, Johnson had been free on bond.