UPDATE: Driver in Woodmore bus crash gets jury from outside Hami - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Driver in Woodmore bus crash gets jury from outside Hamilton County

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Those living in Hamilton County will not sit on the jury to decide Johnthony Walker's fate. 

He's facing charges in the Woodmore bus crash that killed six elementary students last November. 

Too many people in Hamilton County know who Walker is, that's why his attorney believes those who decide his fate should come from another community.

"We haven't really made any headway in that department. I would prefer for it to be a jury from a metropolitan area so that we have a population similar to the population we have here in Hamilton County," Amanda Dunn said.

A Hamilton County judge agreed, granting the defense's motion to pick a jury from outside Hamilton County and bring them to Chattanooga for the trial.

Dunn wouldn't say where specifically she would like the jury to come from but she did say where she would not.

"There has been significant coverage in Davidson County. But I think there are other counties in the state of Tennessee that would provide the diverse population pool that would be similar to the population here in Hamilton County," she added.

Dunn and prosecutors will have to agree on a place by July 20th and get final approval by the judge. 

Dunn says it will cost a little more to bring a jury in, but to her, the cost is worth it in terms of fairness.

Prosecutors also agreed to turn over any evidence they plan to use during the trial.

There are 14 civil lawsuits filed on behalf of the victims in that crash. 

There's also an investigation by the Department of Children's Services

Both of those are on hold until this case is resolved.   

We are tracking all the elements of this story closely, count on Channel 3 to keep you updated.


PREVIOUS STORY:  The Grand Jury has indicted the school bus driver in the crash that killed six Woodmore Elementary School students in November of 2016.

According to the Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk's Office, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker now faces a sixth charge of vehicular homicide.

The Grand Jury handed down the indictments Wednesday.

Walker also faces four counts of reckless aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, on count of reckless driving, and one count of use of portable electronic device by a school bus driver.

Walker is scheduled for an arraignment hearing on March 24.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Lila Statom has bound the case against Woodmore bus driver Johnthony Walker to the grand jury.

As testimony got underway Thursday morning, investigators said that onboard video shows driver Walker using a cellphone will driving before the deadly bus crash.

They also explained that they obtained a warrant for Walker's cellphone records, which appear to be some 1,400 pages long.

Investigators said the bus was traveling between 50-53 mph in the 30 mph residential area. The bus went off the road on both sides of Talley Road and overcorrecting before it slammed into the tree.

The CPD traffic investigator also said that he did not see any indication of braking prior to the crash.

The speed of the bus was determined by using landmarks in the video and time. Video from three cameras was used. Three forms of electronic data were gathered by investigators; GPS data, video and the engine control module.

Walker declined to talk to Chattanooga police traffic investigators following the crash, according to testimony.

The video also shows Walker helping at least two children get out of the wrecked bus. Investigators also say that Walker then ran to the back of the bus to give aid to the students before first responders arrived.

Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide in the November bus crash that claimed the lives of six children from Woodmore Elementary School.

Police say a sixth charge of vehicular homicide will be added.

Thursday's hearing will determine whether Walker's case will head to a grand jury.

Federal authorities say Walker left the designated bus route on November 21 when he wrecked on a curvy road while carrying 37 children. Authorities suspect Walker was speeding.

Walker's attorney, Amanda Dunn, has said she expects him to plead not guilty if he's indicted.


PREVIOUS STORY: Johnthony Walker slowly walked into a Hamilton County courtroom surrounded by deputies. 

Tuesday was one of the first times-- if not the first time-- Walker has ever been inside a courtroom as an inmate. 

Channel 3 found no prior criminal history on his record. 

His wide eyes and quiet demeanor are the first glimpse of Walker since the mug shot of a 24-year-old facing six counts of vehicular homicide. 

Walker is also charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving in the school bus crash that killed six Woodmore Elementary students and hurt several others. 

He only spoke when answering a judge's question standing next to his attorney in handcuffs. 

Even though the courtroom wasn't filled with the victims' families Tuesday morning, his attorney acknowledged the pain of this crash still resonates in the community a week later. 

"Obviously this has been a devastating tragedy for the Chattanooga community. There are still families in mourning, there are still families who are dealing with loved ones in the hospital and in intensive care," Walker's attorney Amanda Dunn said. 

The NTSB still has investigators in Chattanooga for the on-site part of the process. The next step will be to analyze all the evidence which will take as long as it takes. 

But Walker's attorney wants the public to know one thing. 

"As he sits in the jail right now, Mr. Walker is an innocent man. In the eyes of the law, he is an innocent man and he will remain so until proven otherwise," Dunn said. 

Walker is due back in court on December 15th for a preliminary hearing. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County Department of Education confirms there were 37 students on board, all students at Woodmore Elementary. Chattanooga Police confirm 5 students are dead, 6 critically injured, 6 were admitted but not critically injured and 20 were treated and released by local hospitals. No other vehicles were involved in the crash. 


PREVIOUS STORY:  Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher says the bus driver has been charged in connection to the deadly crash on Talley Road Monday afternoon.

Chief Fletcher says 24-year-old Johnthony Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide and one count of reckless endangerment.

The Chief says five children died at the scene due to the crash.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga police have said that there are "multiple" fatalities from this afternoon's school bus crash.

District Attorney Neal Pinkston tells Channel 3 that five children were killed in the crash.

The crash happened Monday afternoon at 313 Talley Road, around 3:20 p.m.   

Police initially confirmed that the crash involved a school bus. School officials tell Channel 3 that the bus is from Woodmore Elementary and the bus number is 366. School officials are now on the scene.

According to the Hamilton County 911 call log, Hamilton County EMS has been dispatched to the scene. Channel 3 reporter Kelly McCarthy says at least four ambulances have responded to the scene. Chattanooga Police Chief, Fred Fletcher says, 35 students from grades Kindergarten to 5th grade were on the bus when the crash occurred. 23 patients have been transported to local hospitals. After two hours, Chattanooga Fire Department has extracted the last patient from the bus.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott reported fatalities from the crash.

Reporter Kelly McCarthy says a CPD Chaplain is on the scene.

Parents and residents in the neighborhood are showing up at the scene to check on their children.

Channel 3 reporter Kate Smith says Erlanger has been placed under a code triage.

On Twitter, the National Transportation Safety Board announced it will be investigating the crash.

NTSB officials plan to arrive in Chattanooga Tuesday.

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