A Louisiana man, who was arrested for the September 2018 robbery of an Uber driver and the carjacking of his vehicle, has been sentenced to six years probation for aggravated robbery.
The defendant, 30-year-old Richard James Darby, pleaded guilty to the crime on Thursday in the 71st Judicial District Court.
According to the indictment, on Sept. 29, 2018, with intent to obtain and maintain control of the property, Darby threatened or placed the Uber driver, Ekpono Eckponobong, in fear of imminent bodily injury or death by exhibiting a knife.
Harrison County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jay Webb reported at the time that the arrest of Darby came after deputies responded to a 911 call at 9:30 a.m. from an Uber driver from Tarrant County who said a customer had kidnapped him and stole his vehicle.
“The victim, Ekpono Eckponobong, stated he had been dispatched to an address in Bedford, Texas, and after making the pickup, the suspect allegedly instructed the driver to go to Shreveport where the suspect’s family had been killed,” Webb said at the time of Darby’s arrest. “Upon arrival in Shreveport, the suspect stated to the driver that he was to go back to Fort Worth. The driver stated the suspect placed a knife to his throat and ordered him out of the vehicle while still in motion as he was heading back.”
The driver was able to slow the vehicle to a speed that allowed him to jump. Webb noted that the suspect then took control of the vehicle and continued westbound on Interstate Highway 20 from approximately the 606 mile marker to the Farm-to-Market Road 450 exit in Hallsville.
After obtaining a description of the suspect from the Uber driver, Department of Public Safety troopers located the driver’s car abandoned in a ditch on I-20 in Gregg County.
“The vehicle occupant was missing from the vehicle and as troopers and deputies were at the vehicle, a wallet with the suspect’s identification and other evidence of the offense was located in the vehicle,” Webb said at the time.
Shortly after finding the vehicle, officers spotted a shirtless white male walking from the wooded area, about a quarter of a mile from the location of the vehicle. He was reportedly running onto the highway, waving his arms and running between the traffic.
“Deputies ran to the suspect and forcibly arrested him and placed him in handcuffs,” Webb indicated, at the time.
As a condition of probation, Darby will have to serve 300 hours of community service. 71st Judicial District Judge Brad Morin also ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine.