AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The Auburn teen charged in the deadly crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett has been sentenced.
However, due to his youthful offender status, what kind of punishment the 18-year-old Johnston Taylor will receive has not been revealed.
The YO status in the case prevented CBS 42’s sister station News 3 or any other media from being inside the courtroom during the plea and sentencing. News 3 waited outside in the parking lot of the Lee County Justice Center and saw Taylor did not walk out with his legal team after his plea hearing on Wednesday in front of Judge P.B. McLauchlin.
After the sentencing, Taylor’s lawyer Tommy Spina told News 3 he could not comment on details of Taylor’s sentencing due to his YO status.
“The sentence was fair and balanced in light of all facts and circumstances,” Spina said.
Johnston was 16 years old when he crashed into Rod and Paula Bramblett on March 25, 2019, along Shug Jordan Parkway, killing the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers” and his wife. The ALEA crash report indicates Taylor was traveling 91 miles per hour at the time of the crash. A blood sample taken from the Taylor at the hospital indicated “recent” use of marijuana.
Last month, the teen’s defense attorneys applied for youthful offender status in the case. In the order granting YO, Judge McLaughlin wrote, “At the time of the accident, the defendant was a 16-year-old teenager with no prior criminal history, who had smoked or used marijuana and had been diagnosed with marijuana use disorder. None of this justifies what happened; however, it does lend itself to treatment as a Youthful Offender. THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Application to be treated as a Youthful Offender is hereby GRANTED.”
A YO status is considered a legal win for a defense team as it reduces possible punishment and seals further public inspection of the case record. If the judge does hand down a sentence, prison time is capped at three years, and probation is capped at three years. Because the person is not considered a convict, they can own a firearm, vote, hold public office, and they do not have to disclose information related to the crime on a job application.
The Lee County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Wednesday’s sentencing or the case, citing Taylor’s YO status. Prosecutors had argued against YO and wanted to try Johnston as an adult in the deaths of the Brambletts.
Judge McLauchlin was appointed to the case when several Lee County Judges rescued themselves.