UPDATE: DA says Woodmore driver was on phone at time of crash
Johnthony Walker's attorney is requesting evidence be limited in the Woodmore bus driver's trial.
UPDATE: New evidence was laid out Tuesday against the driver in the Woodmore bus crash that shows Johnthony Walker may have been distracted shortly before the crash that killed six elementary school students.
"There is proof to indicate that Mr. Walker received a phone call right before the crash and apparently the phone was still operable during that time," Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston said.
During the hearing, Pinkston said a call log from Walker's cell phone shows a call on Walker's phone at 3:17 pm on November 21, 2016 and the call lasted for three minutes and 51 seconds. He said the Hamilton County 911 call log shows the first 911 call came in around 3:20 pm that same day.
Dressed in gray, Walker appeared in court for the first time out of handcuffs.
He said nothing during the hearing or as he walked out of the courtroom Tuesday.
He's been out of jail on a $50,000 bond for more than two months waiting for his trial.
For LaTesha Jones, it's hard seeing the man charged with killing her daughter out of custody.
"He doesn't need to be out, he should still be behind bars under the jail," Jones said.
Walker's attorney spent the morning laying out what evidence in the case she believes should be thrown out, like pictures taken of the scene and during autopsies.
"This case will be extremely difficult for the families of the victims, this case will be extremely difficult for everybody in the courtroom who is participating. I do not think there is anything to be added to this case by the use of photographs," Defense attorney Amanda Dunn said during Tuesday's hearing.
She wants her client's driving history and prior complains thrown out too.
She believes 1400 pages of data from Walker's cell phone are not needed.
But the state disagrees, saying attorneys have evidence Walker answered his phone moments before the crash.
Pinkston believes he can show a pattern of calls to the same person around the same time, dating back to a week before the crash happened.
New information, Jones said, proves Walker caused the crash.
"It was true, you know, he was on the phone. Not only speeding, he was on the phone also and he knew better," Jones added.
That decision will be up to a jury, which will be chosen from Clarksville and sequestered in Chattanooga for the trial.
The judge ruled Walker's phone calls from jail will not be released, saying those calls could make it hard for a jury to be unbiased.
The judge will hear from attorneys on both sides on the other motions on February 5, 2018.
The trial is set for February 27, 2018.
PREVIOUS STORY: Johnthony Walker appeared in court Tuesday morning to learn whether a judge would exempt evidence his attorney had requested.
Wednesday, December 13th, Walker's attorney expressed in requests she sent to the judge that photographs of the crash and victims, phone calls Walker made from jail and Walker's cell phone and driving records prior to the crash could sway the jury's opinion.
Walker’s attorney is giving her reasons why she believes her client’s jail phone calls should not be released to a Nashville news station. They could discuss evidence, legal strategy, Walker’s whereabouts and could taint the jury pool which would be coming from Nashville. @WRCB— Michelle Heron (@MichelleWRCB) December 19, 2017
The state did not argue against Walker's attorney's request to not release jailhouse calls because they believed Walker's right to a fair trial was more important.
READ MORE | Woodmore bus crash
The state did argue that they plan to show some photos. They expressed that they have no desire to show autopsy pictures, but they may show crime scene photos. The judge asked that the state show the defense and trial judge the pictures they plan to use before the trial to work out which will be shown.
Walker's attorney believes that cell phone records prior to the crash are irrelevant. The state disagrees because they say that Walker's cell phone record shows that he received and made calls while driving the bus prior to the crash.
The judge was unable to make a decision about the cell phone records Tuesday. One will be made on February 5, 2018, at Walker's next hearing.
A judge will also make a decision then about whether or not Walker's driving record and complaints about his driving will be exempt from trial.
At Tuesday's hearing, Walker also learned that the jury for his trial will come from Clarksville, TN.
As of now, the February hearing will be the last one before Walker's trial.
PREVIOUS STORY: Johnthony Walker's attorney is asking that certain evidence be exempt from Walker's trial, according to court documents.
The defendant's attorney argued that showing the jury photographs of the crash and victims, phone calls made from jail and Walker's cell phone and driving records prior to the crash would be unfair.