Walker Sentenced To 4 Years In State Prison For Tragic Woodmore Bus Wreck

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Johnthony Walker was sentenced to four years in state prison on Tuesday in connection with a school bus crash that claimed six lives and injured 22 other Woodmore Elementary students.

Judge Don Poole declined to run any of the sentences consecutively, while finding that the 25-year- old Walker was not a "dangerous offender."

Walker has already served almost a year of the sentence and, because he has no prior criminal record, he is eligible for parole consideration after serving 30 percent of the term.

The judge allowed Walker to remain free on bond pending a motion for a new trial.

Judge Poole said, "It's ungaugeable the pain, suffering and despair that many in this courtroom feel, but still we must look to what the law says." 

He said he took into account the fact that Walker had been seeing speeding in the bus previously and the horror of the accident itself.

District Attorney Neal Pinkston had asked for active prison time and for some of the sentences to be consecutive.

Defense attorney Amanda Dunn asked for diversion or for an alternative sentence, saying Walker was not a dangerous offender.

She said the testimony was that when Walker was driving on Talley Road in Brainerd on Nov. 21, 2016, a white bus came into his lane and had to swerve to the right. She did admit he was going faster than the speed limit.

Walker told the court, "I didn't wake up intending for this to happen. It is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life - whether in prison or not."

He said, "I can only imagine the hurt these families feel. I just want to apologize for taking the lights out of your lives. I just want to say I'm sorry."

Walker was initially charged with 34 counts, but he went to trial on 33 charges before a jury from Montgomery County after one was dismissed.

The jury did not convict him on the most serious charges of vehicular homicide. He was found guilty of six counts of criminally negligent homicide, seven counts of reckless aggravated assault, six counts of assault, felony reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and using a cell phone while driving a school bus.

He faced 1-2 years on each count of criminally negligent homicide, 2-4 years on each count of reckless aggravated assault, 11 months and 29 days for assault, 1-2 years for felony reckless endangerment, six months for reckless driving, and 30 days for using a cell phone while driving a school bus.

Judge Poole sentenced him to two years on each count of criminally negligent homicide, four years on each count of reckless aggravated assault, 11 months and 29 days for assault, two years for felony reckless endangerment, six months for reckless driving, and 30 days for using a cell phone while driving a school bus.

A former supervisor for Walker when he worked for a cleaning service called him "a very nice young man, a respectful young man." She said he was a hard worker who pitched in on jobs that were not part of his assignment.

She said he got to and from work on a skateboard. She said he once wrecked and had a deep cut on his hand, but he still finished his work day.

Misti Nash, who lost a daughter in the wreck and had a son who lost an arm, took the witness stand for Walker, saying she forgave him. She said, "I figure you are nothing but a child."

She stated, "I speed and I talk on the cell phone when other peoples' children are in my car."

Ms. Nash said, "I remember seeing your face after the wreck - how hysterical you were. I know you did not try to harm these kids at all. My heart goes out to you. You can write me and I'd love to come see you."

Other parents in the courtroom did not share those sentiments, and several were ejected when they spoke out while attorney Dunn was giving her argument.

Some parents got into verbal altercations inside the court while the judge was off the bench and out in the hall as nine court officers tried to keep order.

 

 

 

There was heavy security in the courtroom
There was heavy security in the courtroom


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BANKS, LAUREN LUV  3431 HUGHES AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37410  Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF PROBATION (THEFT UNDER $500) VIOLATION OF PROBATION (THEFT UNDER $500) FAILURE TO APPEAR --- BEAN, EDGAR BRYAN  3407 HARTFORD DR CHATTANOOGA, 37415  ... (click for more)

City Pulls Item On 3 Surplus Buildings From Agenda Of City Board

A city board was initially asked to act Monday to accept three city buildings as surplus property. Franklin McCallie, a member of a citizen activist group questioning the surplusing, said that action should not take place before the City Council officials declares them as surplus. The board of the Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation later in the meeting was told ... (click for more)

Make One Of The Proposed Surplus City Buildings Into A Local History Museum - And Response

The city of Chattanooga currently has no history center or museum. That is because several years ago it was conveyed to the public, in the blinking of an eye, that $9 million that had been raised mysteriously vanished for reasons unexplainable to this date. In the meantime, valuable artifacts and collections are sitting in cellars, basements and storage facilities instead of being ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: No Cell Phones Allowed

There was a time, not so long ago, when school-aged children would learn lessons from a prescribed text, such as a textbook. Today texting is far, far different and, as any of our teachers will tell us, cell phones have become the scourge of education. In almost every classroom, kids will silently text in the shadow of the desk in front of them rather than focus on the lesson. Yet ... (click for more)

Rectors Lead Hixson Past Lady Bucs In Season Opener

Robert Catlett may have been a little bit nervous before Hixson’s first volleyball match of the season Monday evening, but the guy who is now the head coach for the Lady Wildcats after many years as their assistant didn’t seem to show it. Hixson hosted the Boyd-Buchanan Lady Buccaneers in both team’s season opener and it was also the first match for first year Lady Buc coach ... (click for more)

Thompson's Reign As Missionary Ridge Champions

Adam Pinkston’s course record for the annual Missionary Ridge Road Race is safe for another year. Local running standout Christian Thompson took a legitimate shot at the mark of 23:07 that had been set in 1986 and won last year’s race in 23:41. Thompson successfully defended his title in the 46 th annual event on Saturday as he crossed the finish line at Bragg Reservation ... (click for more)