Judge grabs flagpole after defendant tries to run from charges

A man is facing several new charges after investigators say he tried to escape a courtroom last month.  

Christian Penarrieta was standing trial for aggravated stalking in Clayton County on Oct. 16 when he realized he was headed back to jail, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Judge Robert Mack revoked Penarrieta’s bond due to allegations he’d been harassing his alleged victim. 

Clayton County District Attorney’s Office investigator John Gosart said in court Thursday that Penarrieta didn’t take the news well last month.

“I heard him ask, ‘I’m going to jail?’” Gosart testified. And instead of following Deputy Leon Brown’s order to follow him, Penarrieta made a break for it.

Christian Penarrieta (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Officials described the events that occurred during that Oct. 16 hearing:

“He stood right up and bolted,” Brown said. 

Despite being stunned with a Taser, Penarrieta continued to fight with officials until he was struck with a baton, according to the news station.

At one point, Penarrieta allegedly threw Gosart into a bench, which injured Gosart’s shoulder.

Then, Penarrieta rushed toward the bench, and the judge got up to get away, Brown said. 

Mack grabbed a flagpole to defend himself, Channel 2 reported.

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“The court reporter was in the middle of everything, so basically what she did was kneel down and got up under the desk,” Gosart said.

In addition to previous charges of aggravated stalking, Penarrieta was charged Thursday with felony obstruction, battery, public disturbance and felony escape, the last of which defense attorney Thomas Florio disputed. 

“He was not in custody and was not confined,” Florio said.

The judge agreed, but returned Penarrieta to custody.

If he had not created a scene in court last month, Penarrieta might have had only 12 months of work release for an aggravated stalking conviction, Channel 2 reported, but now he faces more severe punishment.

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