Man sentenced to 45 years for Pelham murder

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, April 30, 2013

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A Montgomery man convicted of killing a construction foreman at Pelham’s Aldi Food Mart in 2008 will spend the next 45 years in prison after he was sentenced for the crime on April 30.



During the sentencing at the Shelby County Courthouse, Judge Dan Reeves sentenced 58-year-old James Darrell Johnson to 45 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.

The sentencing came about a month and a half after a jury found Johnson guilty of killing Sherlin M. Vaughn at the construction site for the grocery store on July 29, 2008.

According to court documents, Johnson killed Vaughn “by picking him up over his head and slamming him to the ground three times” at the construction site, which was near the intersection of U.S. 31 and Valleydale Road in Pelham.

Before the sentence was announced, Vaughn’s widow, Patricia, took the stand and requested Reeves hand down a life sentence in the case.

“Since July 29, 2008, we have been living a nightmare,” Patricia Vaughn said to Reeves. “Our family prays that the sentence you hand down today will continue to keep Darrell Johnson locked up to prevent this from happening to another family because of his uncontrollable rage.

“There wasn’t anything Mike wouldn’t do for his family and friends. We can’t begin to understand why this happened,” Patricia Vaughn added. “Mike died a terrible death.”

Assistant Shelby County District Attorney Roger Hepburn called the crime “violent and atrocious,” and said Sherlin Vaughn suffered before he died from the injuries sustained in the incident.

“During this assault, this defendant had every opportunity to stop. This was not a split-second decision,” Hepburn said, as several members of Vaughn’s family sat in the courtroom. “As hard as it is for his family to hear, Mike did suffer. He fought for his life.

“There is not a shred of remorse to be found in this defendant,” Hepburn added.

Before he was sentenced, Johnson, who wore an orange Shelby County Jail jumpsuit and leg and ankle shackles, asked for forgiveness from the Vaughn family.

“If there is anywhere in your heart to find forgiveness, direct it in my direction,” Johnson said.