The first defendant to face trial among a group of men and boys accused of repeatedly raping a young Texas girl has vanished during a break in the proceedings, following emotionally charged testimony from the alleged victim.
Eric McGowen, 20, is among 14 adults accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl during a nearly three-month span in 2010. Six juveniles also were charged.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys huddled briefly Wednesday with Judge Mark Morefield after McGowen failed to return to the courtroom following an afternoon break. The judge then told jurors the trial will go on without him.
Morefield later said a bench warrant had been issued, and McGowen's bail was increased from $35,000 to $250,000. The judge said the trial will resume Thursday morning.