Defense calls first witness in Bart Johnson’s trial

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Bart Johnson was a good pharmacist who was called on three times to assist with opening additional Fred’s stores throughout the state, Johnson’s former boss testified Monday afternoon.

Wes Maddox, the former healthcare manager for all of Alabama’s Fred’s stores, was the defense’s first witness in Johnson’s capital murder trial.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in the shooting death of Pelham police officer Philip Davis.

Johnson was called upon to train others because of his knowledge of the stores’ processes and procedures, Maddox said.

Though he never did so, Maddox said he could have recommended Johnson for a supervisor’s position.

Maddox was questioned about a letter he wrote to the Alabama State Pharmacy Board concerning Johnson. Maddox said he wrote the letter in response to state investigators.

The letter was submitted for evidence but refused by Judge Al Crowson after prosecutors objected.

Johnson assisted in the opening of three Fred’s stories in Alabama Maddox said. The night he’s alleged to have shot Davis, Johnson was on his way home from helping with the opening of a new store in Bayou LaBatre.

Johnson assisted that store November 19-20 and November 30 to December 3 in 2009. Davis was shot just before midnight on December 3.

If Johnson was suffering from migraines, sleep deprivation or diarrhea, Maddox said he never heard anything about it. He said Johnson had no signs of depression, either, but noted the two weren’t at the store together the entire time.

Asked Johnson’s yearly salary with Fred’s, Maddox said he didn’t have the exact figure, though it was more than $100,000. Maddox said Johnson had no financial difficulties that he was aware of.

Maddox said no drugs were missing from Johnson’s store.

Court resumes Tuesday at 9 a.m.