Defendant flees before jury returns guilty verdict in Fort Worth robbery

Posted Friday, Mar. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A defendant who fled the courthouse during her aggravated robbery trial this week was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison.

A Tarrant County jury on Wednesday convicted Belinda Barrow of a home invasion-style robbery at a west side retirement community, but she wasn't there to hear the verdict.

Barrow, 38, and a friend left the courthouse shortly after the jury started deliberating, a district attorney's office spokeswoman said. Security cameras caught their exit.

Barrow, who had been free on bond, was found guilty in the aggravated robbery of an 82-year-old woman, said Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney's office.

U.S. marshal's task force and Fort Worth police were searching for Barrow on Friday.

The punishment phase of her trial resumed Thursday without her in state District Judge Everett Young's 297th District Court, McDonald said. The jury deliberated a little more than two hours before sentencing Barrow to 20 years in prison. She faced a maximum of life in prison.

Barrow now also faces a bail-jumping charge, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

In the first phase of the trial, prosecutors Allenna Bangs and Lisa Callaghan told jurors that on Aug. 27, 2011, about 4:30 p.m., Barrow burst into an elderly woman's apartment in the 8700 block of South Normandale Street, armed with a handgun and ordered her not to move.

Barrow rifled the woman's jewelry box, pulled her engagement and wedding rings from her finger and then fled.

Security video showed Barrow walking the hallway, jiggling doorknobs. The video was released to the media and a tip led to the arrest.

Barrow testified that she committed the robbery so she could provide for her four young children. During the punishment phase, jurors heard that Barrow was a certified nursing assistant with a history of abusing the elderly.

Staff writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report.

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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