AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) — The Auburn teen charged with two counts of manslaughter in the deadly crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett faces a second motion by the Lee County District Attorney’s Office to have his bond revoked for testing positive for alcohol while out on bond.
The attorney for Johnston Taylor, 18, has applied for youthful offender status for his client in the case. Under Alabama law, if the defense’s application is approved, punishment is reduced to a max three-year sentence and the defendant waives their right to a jury trial. A day after Taylor’s status hearing hearing, prosecutors asked for Taylor’s bond to be revoked.
According to a copy of the prosecutor’s motion, Taylor was ordered to submit to random drug screens as a condition of his bond. The motion stated he tested positive for alcohol during his drug screens on March 1, March 18, and March 20.
“Results are indicative of previous heavy drinking 1-3 days before testing, or recent light drinking within the past 24 hours,” the motion stated.
Walter Northcutt, Taylor’s attorney, objected to the prosecution’s report, blaming the results on medication like Nite Time, ZZQuick, and Allergy Relief, which Northcutt said Taylor was taking due to pollen and sleep issues.
Northcutt attached pictures of the bottles and stated Taylor informed the testing facility before each test he was taking medication.
“The undersigned as both a severe allergy suffer and Officer of the Court can verify that during the last week of February and beginning of March pollen began to cover everything in Lee County, Alabama which causes us allergy suffered to take medication to fight the effects of our allergies. The State did not bother to contact the Defense’s attorneys about why the alcohol showed up on the test results. The former District Attorney already had knowledge of the fact about the Deferent suffered from allergies and an inability to sleep. In fact the testimony at the Y.O. (Youthful Offender) hearing from the Defendant, his mother, and his doctor was that the Defendant suffered from an inability to sleep due to the PTSD caused by the accident and his depression because of the effect he had had on the family of the deceased,” Northcutt stated in the filing.
Northcutt called the motion to revoke a “Hail Mary” to try and put Taylor in jail and prejudice the court as it considerers his youthful offender application.
“That means the State was in possession of or had reasonable access to, these test results when they were done and failed to file a Motion to revoke the Defendant’s bond and instead waited until they saw how the Youthful Offender Hearing went before trying to use said results to prejudice the court,” Northcutt said.
The case summary does not indicate if the motion to revoke bond or if the youthful offender application has been approved or not by Judge P.B. McLauchlin, who was appointed to the case after several Lee County judges recused themselves.
Johnston was 16 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 the teen was traveling 91 miles per hour at the time of the crash, and a blood sample taken from the Taylor at the hospital indicated “recent” use of marijuana.
Taylor was arrested in May 2019 and indicted in January 2020 on two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of the Auburn couple.
This is not the first time Taylor has faced bond revocation. He was initially out on bond when the district attorney’s office filed a motion to revoke his bond in December 2019 after additional allegations surfaced regarding a November 2019 traffic stop by Auburn police. Investigators said an Auburn patrol officer pulled over Taylor, who was driving 68 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone on South College Street and later traveled 62 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone on Annalue Drive. One officer testified Taylor was spinning tires and fishtailing into an oncoming lane of traffic. The officer said they smelled marijuana in Taylor’s vehicle while locating suspected marijuana residue.
At the time of the first bond revocation hearing, Judge Russell Bush revoked Taylor’s bond and allowed him to enter a rehabilitation facility.
“The court is very concerned about this matter and quite frankly surprised to have read the allegations the state’s motion, absolutely shocked somebody in your situation would be out carrying on like you are. It appears you don’t quite appreciate the seriousness of everything involved here; that is very shocking and a sad revelation,” Bush said at the time of the first bond revocation hearing.
Court documents indicate in April 2020 that bond was reinstated in the case. Taylor was later released.
Due to the Taylor’s youthful offender application, neither District Attorney Pro-Tem Jessica Ventiere or Taylor’s defense team have offered any comment on the week’s court proceedings.