AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The Auburn man charged and sentenced as a Youthful Offender in the deadly 2019 crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett appeared in court Friday afternoon for his first court appearance since his June 16, 2022 arrest on allegations of Possession of Child Pornography by Auburn police. 

News 3 was there as 19-year-old Johnston Taylor appeared before a Lee County Judge on six Felony charges for Possession of Child Pornography. He answered questions and, when he walked back to his seat, kept shaking his head before being led out of the courtroom.

Auburn Police and the Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force initiated a June investigation after Johnston allegedly downloaded multiple child porn videos to a dropbox account. Taylor’s attorney Walter Northcutt appeared with him.

“I’m just hoping everyone doesn’t jump to conclusions. We hope the public will give us time, give me time, to look at the evidence and figure out what happened and give the young man an equal opportunity that everyone deserves under the law,” said Northcutt.

Taylor is being held on a $60,000 bond.  Northcutt expects the bond will be put on hold if the pornography arrest is a violation of probation from Taylor’s Youthful Offender status in the deadly crash that killed the Voice of the Auburn Tigers and his wife.

Taylor was 16 when he crashed into Rod and Paula Bramblett on March 25, 2019, along Shug Jordan Parkway, killing the couple. Investigators said Taylor was speeding at 91 miles per hour.  Taylor’s blood sample indicated “recent” use of marijuana.

The District Attorney wanted to try Taylor as an adult. However, a judge granted Youthful Offender status in April of 2021. The teen’s defense attorneys applied for Youthful Offender status in the case. In the order granting YO, Judge P.B. 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.”

The ruling was a legal win for Taylor’s defense and prevented the public from knowing his exact punishment and circumstances of his probation. We do know YO reduces a possible prison sentence and probation to three years. Since the case was considered an adjudication, not a conviction, Taylor was able to own a firearm, vote, hold public office, and did not have to disclose the crime on a job application. 

Now, Taylor is expected to be charged as an adult in the child pornography case, and if this arrest is a violation of his YO probation, he could remain behind bars until trial or the case is adjudicated.

News 3 is expected to learn more next week.