Auburn teen heads to rehab after bond revoked in Bramblett Manslaughter case

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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – The Auburn teen charged in the deaths of Rod and Paula Bramblett had his bond revoked Wednesday morning due to additional allegations of speeding, reckless driving and suspected marijuana presence during subsequent traffic stops.

Judge Russell Bush revoked 16-year-old Johnston Taylor’s bond in response to a motion filed Friday by the Lee County District Attorney’s Office. Judge Bush is allowing Taylor to leave jail but remain in custody while he enters a rehabilitation facility. Taylor will not be allowed to leave the rehab facility until he completes treatment. If Taylor does leave it will be considered escape. When treatment is complete, Taylor will be brought back to the Lee County Detention Facility.

During the hearing Judge Bush spoke directly to Taylor.

“The court is very concerned about this matter and quite frankly surprised to have read the allegations in 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 a very shocking and sad revelation. It’s the court’s understanding there is a bed waiting for you in a rehab facility, the court will allow you, as it does in many cases like this, to go from custody to the rehab facility for as long as you are under treatment and then brought back to custody. At no time will you be allowed to walk out of this rehab facility, if you do you will be charged with escape which is a separate felony entirely,” stated Lee County District Court Judge Russell Bush.

Johnston Taylor

Taylor sat quietly as Judge Bush ordered him back to jail following two traffic stops in November where Auburn police pulled Taylor over for driving 68 in a 45 on South College Street and later traveling 62 in a 35 on Annalue Drive. One officer stated Taylor was spinning tires and fishtailing into an oncoming lane of traffic and smelled marijuana in Taylor’s vehicle while locating suspected marijuana residue.

The district attorney expects Taylor will be held in jail until Monday when he will be transferred to a rehab facility. It’s possible Taylor’s defense attorneys may ask for another bond if and when Taylor completes treatment. Taylor’s defense team told the judge they would keep Taylor’s drivers license as Taylor is now prevented from operating any motorized vehicle.

“I believe the Judges ruling, in light of all facts and circumstances, to be fair and balanced. It is hoped that my client will benefit from the opportunity that he’s been given to show that his actions do not define the person that he is,” said Taylor’s attorney Tommy Spina.

Taylor

Taylor was out on bond after being arrested in connection to the deaths of Rod and Paula Bramblett. Rod was the well-known “Voice of the Auburn Tigers,” and Paula worked at Auburn University in Information Technology.

“While the defendant is free on bond for the charges, he continues to engage in the same reckless driving behavior receiving two speeding tickets and one reckless driving citation. He was also found in possession of suspected marijuana residue while the vehicle he was driving smelled of marijuana,” said Friday’s bond revocation motion.

Taylor is charged with two counts of Manslaughter, a Class B Felony, after investigators say he rammed into the back of the Bramblett’s SUV while traveling between 89 and 91 mph along Shug Jordan Parkway, which has a posted speed limit of 55 mph. The crash happened on May 25th.

An Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences toxicology report indicated a blood sample from Taylor contained THC. Court documents indicate investigators believe Taylor had used marijuana prior to the crash.

Spina sent the following statement to News 3 Friday afternoon regarding the traffic citations and Motion to Revoke Bond:

“I am certainly saddened and disappointed in my clients behavior that has lead up to the filing of a motion to revoke his bond. I was unaware of the driving violations until today when I saw the States filing. There are no excuses or blame shifting that would condone this behavior. I believe the DA is doing exactly what he should do under the circumstances. I obviously represent a very troubled young man who desperately needs help navigating his journey through life,” said Spina.

Taylor’s case awaits to be heard by a Grand Jury for them to consider an official indictment.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Traffic Homicide Unit indicates a study of the crash shows Taylor’s vehicle was not braking, according to the affidavit.

Taylor told police he fell asleep while driving and did not remember what happened, according to the traffic crash report. His attorney, Tommy Spina, maintained Taylor was not using marijuana or drinking at the time of the crash. He says his client had been at the lake all day and was exhausted.

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