Ac­cused child mo­lester Jer­maine Bernard An­thony never showed up for the third day of his trial this week.

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Front Page - BY JOE KO­VAC JR. jko­vac@ma­

Ju­rors were about to de­cide their son’s fate Thurs­day morn­ing as Wal­ter and Pa­tri­cia An­thony sat on a front-row bench in Bibb County Su­pe­rior Court.

Clos­ing ar­gu­ments wrapped up and the judge sent the jury to de­lib­er­ate.

But the cou­ple’s son, Jer­maine Bernard An­thony — on trial for al­legedly mo­lest­ing an 11-year-old girl two years ago — was nowhere to be found.

Or­di­nar­ily, Jer­maine An­thony, 39, would have been sit­ting at the de­fense ta­ble, where all de­fen­dants do, on the right side of wood-pan­eled, gray-car­peted Court­room B — 10 feet or so away from where his folks sat.

But Jer­maine An­thony, who was out of jail on bond while await­ing trial, had dis­ap­peared.

He was in court for jury selec­tion Mon­day and also for the first day of tes­ti­mony on Tuesday, when his al­leged vic­tim spoke of a day in July 2016 when she says Jer­maine An­thony lured her and a friend in a win­dow of his Ma­con apart­ment.

At the end of Tuesday’s pro­ceed­ings, An­thony told his mother he would see her in the morn­ing.

But he never showed up for court Wed­nes­day. He wasn’t there Thurs­day ei­ther.

The law doesn’t re­quire that a de­fen­dant be present once a trial has be­gun. Though it is rare, ac­cused crim­i­nals are from time to time tried in ab­sen­tia.

Even so, on Wednes- day, An­thony’s par­ents filed a miss­ing-per­sons re­port. They called his cell­phone re­peat­edly. Their calls went straight to voice­mail.

“We’re con­cerned for his where­abouts,” Wal­ter An­thony, 61, told a Tele­graph re­porter out­side the court­room. “We’re wor­ried some­thing bad hap­pened.”

Jer­maine An­thony, who had med­i­cal prob­lems and was un­em­ployed, had been liv­ing in south­west Ma­con’s Bloom­field area. In the past, for more than a dozen years, he worked as a gravedig­ger.

His fa­ther said he hadn’t missed a sin­gle court ap­pear­ance in the more than 24 months since his ar­rest.

Pros­e­cu­tors at trial said Jer­maine An­thony touched his al­leged vic­tim’s but­tocks for sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

“He clearly tar­gets chil­dren,” as­sis­tant Bibb district at­tor­ney Dorothy Hull told the jury in her clos­ing re­marks.

Hull said Jer­maine An­thony tried to be­friend the girl and showed the child images of Bar­bie clothes on his com­puter tablet.

Pa­tri­cia An­thony, how­ever, said her son “felt con­fi­dent” that he would be ex­on­er­ated.

“He doesn’t know why some­body would lie on him,” she said.

“We don’t know if he dis­ap­peared or if some­thing hap­pened to him,” she went on. “This is not like him. ... He would not miss a day com­ing here.”

Wal­ter An­thony feared the worst, foul play in par­tic­u­lar.

Pa­tri­cia An­thony wor­ried that her son may have killed him­self.

As noon ap­proached Thurs­day, half an hour or so into the jury’s de­liber- ations, word of Jer­maine An­thony’s where­abouts reached the court­house. He was dead.

A man who found his body near a ball field in a park off Lions Place near Rocky Creek Road about 11 a.m. said An­thony had a gun­shot wound to the head, the vic­tim of ap­par­ent sui­cide. Of­fi­cials later said his body had prob­a­bly been there sev­eral hours.

At the court­house, a sher­iff’s deputy broke the news to Wal­ter and Pa­tri­cia An­thony in a glass meet­ing room where lawyers often con­fer with clients.

The jury had by then been dis­missed for lunch, not told of the de­vel­op­ment.

When it re­turned, Judge Howard Z. Simms de­clared a mis­trial.

Tele­graph writer Liz Fabian con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Jer­maine Bernard An­thony

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