A 47-year-old man who fled from a Wake County courtroom Friday before a jury found him guilty of sex crimes involving a child was found dead hours later in his hometown.
Shawn T. Walters was found dead of an apparent suicide at his parents’ home in Bonneau, South Carolina, at 4:20 p.m. by sheriff’s deputies who were executing a search warrant, Stephanie Smith, a Morrisville town spokeswoman, said late Friday afternoon.
Walters had been out of custody on a $1.15 million bond after deputies charged him with 14 counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Friday afternoon.
Walters was convicted of the offenses Friday in Wake Superior Court, but he fled from the fourth-floor courtroom while the jury was still deliberating, Freeman said.
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The deliberations had begun when Walters requested to go to the restroom and never returned, Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews said in an email Friday afternoon.
A Wake County judge presiding said that an ankle monitoring bracelet that Walters had been wearing was apparently cut off and found on the side of the road in Cary, WRAL reported.
Morrisville detectives obtained a search warrant to look for Walters inside of a townhouse where he lived at 702 Walton Woods Drive, but did not find him there.
Investigators then conducted "a secondary search," town spokeswoman Stephanie Smith said Friday afternoon.
Morrisville police joined in the search for Walters, along with the FBI, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the Cary Police Department and the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority Police Department, Andrews said.
The sex offenses filed against Walters began five years ago, when police charged him with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. One year later in 2014, he was charged with the same crime, along with taking indecent liberties with a child, according to records filed with the City County Bureau of Identification.
Investigators accused Walters of sexually assaulting a boy and making him watch pornography. The search warrant obtained at the time also accused Walters of giving the underage boy a flash drive with pornographic videos on it, WRAL reported.
On Aug. 17 of last year, Morrisville police accused Walters of using a hidden camera to secretly record a 13-year-old while the child was undressing, according to an arrest warrant filed with the clerk of superior court.
Walters attended Clemson University and lived in Chapel Hill from 2000 until 2004, before moving to Morrisville, according to state records.
He was convicted in Wake County of misdemeanor maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for a controlled substance in 2006, state records show.