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.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Johnston Taylor’s defense attorney’s have applied for Youthful Offender (Y.O.) status in the case. If the judge approves Y.O. status, it will reduce the punishment. A hearing on Taylor’s Y.O. status was held Tuesday, March 30. A day later, 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 Taylor tested positive for alcohol during his drug screens on March 1, March 18, and March 20 of 2021. Prosecutors stated in the motion, “Results are indicative of previous heavy drinking 1-3 days before testing, or recent light drinking within the past 24 hours.”
Meanwhile, in the defense’s objection to bond revocation, Taylor’s attorney Walter Northcutt blamed the results on medication like Nite Time, ZZQuick, and Allergy Relief, which Northcutt says the defendant 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,” stated Northcutt in the filing.
Northcutt called the motion to revoke a “hail Mary” to try and put the Defendant in jail and prejudice the Court as it considerers a Y.O. application. A hearing on that matter was held on March 30, 2021. A youthful offender is considered a person under the age of 21. 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.
“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,” stated Northcutt.
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-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 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 of 2019 and indicted in January of 2020 on two counts of Manslaughter-Reckless in the deaths of the Auburn couple. Taylor is being charged as an adult. However, court records indicate Taylor’s legal team is applying for Youthful Offender Status.
This is not the first time Taylor has faced bond revocation. The teen was initially out on bond when the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to revoke his bond in December of 2019 after additional allegations surfaced regarding a November of 2019 traffic stop by Auburn Police. Investigators said an Auburn patrol officer pulled over Taylor to drive 68 in a 45 on South College Street and later traveled 62 in a 35 on Annalue Drive. One officer stated 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,” said Judge Bush at the time of the first bond revocation hearing.
Court documents indicate in April of 2020, a bond was reinstated in the case, and Taylor was released.
Due to the Youthful Offender application, neither District Attorney Pro-Tem Jessica Ventiere or Taylor’s defense team are commenting on this week’s court proceedings. News 3 will update you as soon as the Judge makes his decisions.