Defense will argue mental defect in Bart Johnson trial

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A defense attorney for a Kimberly man charged with shooting and killing a Pelham police officer said he plans to use a mental defect defense when his client goes to trial in early May.

Charles Salvagio, a defense attorney for Bart Wayne Johnson, told retired judge Al Crowson he planned to use the defense during a Feb. 22 hearing in the Shelby County Circuit Court.

Bart Johnson

Crowson is currently hearing cases from Judge Hub Harrington’s civil docket, as Harrington is still recovering from injuries he sustained after he was hit by a vehicle while at the BCS National Championship game.

Johnson is charged with the December 2009 shooting death of on-duty Pelham police officer Philip Davis.

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 to both charges.

Although Johnson’s trial was set to begin on April 4, Crowson pushed the date back to May 2 at the defense’s request.

“We told the judge that we will go forward with a mental defect defense,” Salvagio said.

Salvagio told Crowson the defense will call a pair of witnesses during the trial to attest to Johnson’s mental state.

“One will be a sleep deprivation expert, and another possible witness is (Johnson’s) personal physician,” Salvagio said. “(Johnson) was and has been suffering from severe migraine headaches.”

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

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.