School bus driver in deadly Woodmore crash released from jail after making bond

School bus driver in deadly Woodmore crash released from jail after making bond

October 4th, 2017 by Zack Peterson in Breaking News

Johnthony Walker, the driver involved in the November 21, 2016 school bus crash that sent 31 of the 37 students on board to the hospital resulting in six fatalities, is escorted out of Judge Lila Statom's courtroom in Hamilton County General Sessions Court on December 15, 2016 for charges of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. WalkerÕs case was bound over to the grand jury after an hour and a half of testimony from two Chattanooga Police Department officers.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

A day after attorneys set a trial date in his criminal case, the school bus driver charged with killing six Woodmore Elementary students posted bond and was released from the Hamilton County Jail.

Johnthony Walker posted bail Wednesday morning, a few weeks after Criminal Court Judge Don Poole sliced his $107,500 bond in half. The terms of Walker's release are under seal, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Matt Lea said, and deputies took extra precautions to ensure the 25-year-old made it safely out of custody.

Prosecutors say Walker was speeding down Talley Road in Brainerd on Nov. 21 when he lost control of bus 366 with 37 Woodmore Elementary children on board. He eventually overcorrected into a tree, killing six students and injuring several others.

Initially charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, one count of reckless driving and one count of reckless endangerment, Walker received the $107,500 bond that prosecutors didn't try to change after they secured 34 total offenses against him.

Walker didn't have that cash and had been imprisoned in solitude in the jail since the Nov. 21 crash. Still, he was entitled to a bond he could afford, defense attorney Amanda Dunn argued in August.

Poole agreed in a Sept. 13 order, noting that Walker worked two jobs, had no prior criminal history and had reputable witnesses vouch for his character. The judge did have two stipulations: Walker must wear a GPS monitor and he cannot drive a car.

His next appearance is Dec. 19, which is a check-up date and an opportunity to address any outstanding motions. There aren't any filed at the moment, but attorneys could raise an issue between now and then.

In the meantime, Walker is set for trial in February.

He faces six counts of vehicular homicide, seven counts of assault, 18 counts of reckless aggravated assault and one count each of reckless driving, reckless endangerment and use of a portable device by a school bus driver.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.


This story was updated Oct. 4 at 11:55 p.m.


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