A 21-year-old Michigan man accused of assaulting his girlfriend logged into his virtual court hearing inside the same home as the alleged victim — forcing the judge to cancel his bond and place him in custody.
Coby James Harris was charged with assault with intent to commit bodily harm less than murder, stemming from a Feb. 9 incident in Sturgis, the Sturgis Journal reported.
But Harris’ virtual St. Joseph County District Court hearing last week was quickly adjourned when the assistant to the prosecuting attorney said she believed he and his girlfriend, Mary Lindsey, were near each other — based on the victim’s responses and body language.
“Your Honor … I have reason to believe that the defendant is in the same apartment as the complaining witness right now, and I am extremely scared for her safety,” Deborah Davis said, the news outlet reported.
“The fact that she’s looking off to the side and he’s moving around, I want some confirmation that she is safe before we continue.”
The judge then asked Lindsey where she was.
“Um, I’m at a house,” the woman said hesitantly as she gave a Hatch Street address.
When asked to disclose where he was, Harris gave Middleton a house number on East Lafayette Street — but the judge told him to go outside and snap a photograph of the house number.
Harris declined, saying his cellphone was low on power and was connected to a charger, the Sturgis Journal reported.
Moments later, cops showed up at Lindsey’s confirmed location to check on her.
“We may need to adjourn this, Your Honor,” Davis told the judge before the virtual hearing went offline.
Moments later, the livestream came back online, showing Harris in police custody.
“Your Honor, me and Mary both don’t want the no-contact,” Harris said. “I ask that be dropped. I’m sorry I lied to you. I knew the cops were outside. I don’t know why I …”
The judge interrupted Harris, advising him to not utter another word.
“The hearing is adjourned. Your bond is canceled. If you have $10 million, you can’t bond out. In addition, the prosecutor’s probably also going to charge you with obstruction of justice,” Middleton said.
The judge said the bizarre situation was “a first” for him.
“This is an issue we didn’t have when we were having live court … This is the first time, to my knowledge … that this has occurred,” Middleton said.
He added: “That’s the first time I ever had anybody sitting in the next room potentially intimidating a witness to assault.”
The hearing was rescheduled for March 16 — while Harris was locked up at the St. Joseph County jail, according to the report.