Judge denies bond for man accused of killing Pelham Police officer

Published 2:43 pm Thursday, June 10, 2010

Judge Michael Joiner denied bond June 10 during a pretrial hearing for the man accused of killing Pelham Police officer Philip Davis.

During an hour-long hearing, Joiner denied bond for 29-year-old Bart Wayne Johnson, who is accused of shooting and killing Davis following a traffic stop Dec. 3, 2009, on Interstate 65.

“He was leading a normal life, a life many people wished they had, prior to now,” argued Johnson’s attorney Charles Salvagio during the motion. “He has absolutely no criminal record, and he’s not a danger to the community.”

Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick argued that following a grand jury indictment, a defendant is presumed guilty until the trial phase begins.

“He is presumed innocent when this case goes to trial, but he is presumed guilty now by reason of an indictment,” Bostick said.

Salvagio countered the argument by saying the case has drawn too much media coverage that should not affect a bond decision.

“If that were the case, no one would get bond,” Salvagio said. “You’ve got to put aside the passion in this case.”

District Attorney Robby Owens said the state will seek the death penalty in the case, and he asked for a trial date as early as September or October.

Salvagio argued that the fall date was too early, and the defense needs more time.

“There’s no need to rush this case,” Salvagio said.

Although no trial date was set, Joiner said the case should go to trial approximately January or February 2011.

Salvagio also made two motions arguing that the state of Alabama death penalty is unconstitutional, but both motions were denied.

A motion was granted to allow a mental evaluation of Johnson to determine his mental state during the time of the offense and to see if he is competent to stand trial.