Damon Beard fled in the middle of his forgery trial in 35th District Court, leaving behind his ankle monitor at the home he shares with his grandfather and a jury that sentenced him in absentia to 20 years in prison.

District Judge Steve Ellis raised the 45-year-old Brownwood man’s bond to $1 million after Beard was a no-show in court Wednesday morning.

Beard was not present as the jury deliberated briefly and returned a guilty verdict. Later Wednesday, prosecutor Elisha Bird put on evidence of Beard’s length criminal history in the punishment phase of the trial.

After another short deliberation, jurors sentenced Beard to the 20-year term and fined him $10,000.

Beard was free on bond when his trial began Monday with jury selection. 

After court ended Tuesday afternoon, Beard told court personnel he was going straight to the hospital because his leg was swollen, it was announced in court Wednesday morning.

As police and court personnel tried to determine Beard’s location, a hospital told police Beard was not at the hospital. Authorities learned Beard had cut off his ankle monitor and left it at his residence, prosecutor Elisha Bird told Ellis.

Beard’s grandfather told authorities Beard never went to the hospital, Bird told Ellis.

Ellis noted that he had denied an earlier request by the state to raise Beard’s bond and had ordered Beard to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of bond.

Beard was accused by indictment of passing two forged checks in June 2017 to the Napa Auto Parts store in Brownwood.

The checks were written for $371 and $521, according to testimony Tuesday.

Bird elicited testimony about those checks and about two additional forged checks at the Stripes convenient store and Tractor Supply.

Defense attorney Jud Woodley of Comanche argued that while Beard “may have, and probably did commit a theft,” the checks he passed at Napa did not constitute forgery.

Bird disagreed, arguing that Beard committed forgery by making false writings on the check. Beard told Brownwood police detective Kim Holland that he doesn’t do “burglary-kind of crimes” but told Holland he is a “white collar criminal,” Bird told jurors.