April trial set for man accused of killing Philip Davis

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Michael Joiner has set an April 4 trial date for a man accused of shooting and killing Pelham police officer Philip Davis.

Kimberly resident Bart Wayne Johnson faces two counts of capital murder, one for intentionally killing an on-duty police officer and another for intentionally causing death by shooting from an occupied vehicle.

He has pleaded not guilty on both charges.

Johnson was arrested on Dec. 4, 2009, several hours after Pelham Police officer Philip Davis was shot and killed during a traffic stop on I-65 between the tank farm exit and the Alabama 119 exit.

Although Johnson’s case was originally set to go to trial on Feb. 14, Joiner rescheduled it after Johnson’s defense attorneys, Charles Salvagio and Gregory Cox, requested a continuance in December 2010.

The attorneys requested the trial be rescheduled until after summer because Cox is scheduled to undergo surgery shortly before the original trial date. However, Joiner only pushed the trial back about two months after the Shelby County district attorney’s office objected to postponing it until after summer.

The defense attorneys also asked Joiner to schedule the trial at the end of summer to give them time to complete Johnson’s psychiatric evaluation, research Johnson’s life and complete several other tasks.

Although the April date is several months earlier than the attorneys requested, Salvagio said he and Cox will “work very hard” to prepare for the trial.

“We will do everything we can to get ready by April 4,” Salvagio said. “The most important thing is that both sides get a fair trial.”

Davis had served with the department since 2005, and was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the department’s 45-year history.

Johnson is being held in the Shelby County Jail without bond.